Make no mistake, Bill Ford has his team in place. Unfortunately, he is losing a guy who has experience and institutional knowledge, someone who could have been of great value to the new team.
It's ironic that some of the new team worked for Jim Padilla, and that's how they got their chance to shine. Padilla understands talent and has nurtured a lot of bright men and women during his 40 years at Ford Motor Co.
It's important for the older to mentor the younger. In the automobile business, there is no substitute for time in rank, as they might say in the military. It's important to have done the jobs. There is nothing quite like having to get your hands dirty.
Padilla has done it all. He has had experience running plants, has worked in the international field and has covered countries and marques. He has been remarkably loyal to Ford and has taken on any task handed to him. He has accomplished a lot over four decades.
I got to know Jim after he had been shipped from Mexico to England to fix the mess that was called Jaguar. Bill Hayden was retiring after getting Jaguar back on its feet, but it still needed lots of work, and that was the task of Nick Scheele and Jim Padilla. They did a good job, but somehow things got a little confused after they left.
Jim went on to try to get his hands around global manufacturing. Along the way, Mark Fields and Anne Stevens worked for him. He was impressed with them and made sure they moved up the ladder.
Sure, it might be time for the young tigers to take over.
But there is great value in understanding where all the bodies are buried and knowing where the great talent is working.
As Ford goes through its tough downsizing, it will be difficult to keep the best and the brightest. Too often, some of the best talent leaves first. Ford has to be able to keep and nurture its young, talented executives. And it has to have enough experience to recognize them.
It may be time for the young executives at Ford to run the show. When Henry Ford II thought he had learned enough, he politely showed Ernie Breech the door and took over. Ford was pretty young at the time.
We can only wish Bill Ford and his new team the best. And to Jim Padilla, we say: Job well done.