Stevens, 56, a manufacturing expert, now is Ford's group vice president of Canada, Mexico and South America. She would become the top lieutenant to Mark Fields, who took over as president of the Americas last month. The appointment could be announced as early as Thursday, Oct. 13.
Stevens will become the highest ranking woman in the history of the auto industry. She has made it clear that she has far-reaching career ambitions.
"I want more," Stevens told Automotive News in August. "I want more responsibility in terms of the business. I can do more. I'm capable of doing more. And I want more. I do want to be a CEO."
It will be a new position in Ford's executive hierarchy. Sources say the thinking is that Stevens' manufacturing experience and knowledge of North America will complement Fields' strengths in sales and marketing.
"Anne has done a wonderful job," said one insider with knowledge of the plan. "She has tremendous skill in manufacturing. She's a great leader."
Fields, 44, a fast-rising executive, has spent much of his career overseas, most recently running Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group. He previously headed Mazda.
Fields must make some tough decisions. Plant closings and major job cuts are on the agenda in order to turn around North America, which posted a $907 million pretax loss in the second quarter.
Stevens knows the plant network intimately. Before being appointed to her current position in October 2003, Stevens was responsible for all North American assembly plants.
The pending promotion for Stevens is believed to have been the trigger that caused two high-level Ford executives to resign, sources said.
In a surprise move, Phil Martens, group vice president of North America product creation, told Ford on Friday, Oct. 7, that he was leaving for a top job at Plastech Engineered Products Inc. On Monday, Oct. 10, Ford confirmed the departure of Martens and Matt DeMars, vice president of North America vehicle operations. DeMars also went to Plastech, a Dearborn, Mich., supplier.
You may e-mail Amy Wilson at [email protected]