Yes, Mark Fields' Ford career has been fabulously successful, but a cloud of doubt still follows him.
Critics tend to dismiss him as an "MBA," or worse still, a "Harvard MBA" (he's guilty on both counts). It's a polite way of calling the guy an empty suit.
Where's the car-guy cred, they ask? The signature vehicles, the trail of turnarounds, the bold initiatives, the mottos on laminated cards, the evidence that Fields can succeed Alan Mulally?
But look again. The 53-year-old New Jersey native, who today was named Ford's next CEO, has been handed a series of big and complex assignments in the past 15 years. He also has been asked to fill some big shoes, and before taking each job there have been cynics. They always expect Fields to fail -- and he never does.
Yet when Fields takes over on July 1, he will have to prove himself again.
"We're not talking about an untested manager," said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. "We're talking about a war-tested veteran who saw all that went wrong and all that went right going into and out of the reinvention of the company."