Stephen Odell has moved to America in his new role as Ford's global sales and marketing chief. But the native Londoner, who previously ran Ford of Europe, has held several U.S. jobs in the past.
While a promising young Ford of Europe marketing staffer in 1989, Odell was assigned to the company's district sales office in Pittsburgh, a noted training ground once headed by Lee Iacocca. He was dispatched to the Steel City because his boss and mentor at Ford of Europe, an American named Basil Coughlan, had spent time there.
"Bud Coughlan thought I should go to Pittsburgh and work with U.S. dealers," Odell said during the NADA convention in San Francisco. Thinking back on those days, Odell even lapsed into some Pittsburghese.
"I remember people would say, 'Are you'ens coming up for the meeting?'"
What led Odell, who turns 60 this month, to reminisce about his year in western Pennsylvania?
Odell was at a reception at a restaurant on San Francisco Bay and had been looking out at the Bay Bridge, which was badly damaged by the October 1989 earthquake. He was working in Pittsburgh when the quake struck, and news of the disaster prompted a worried call from his mum back in the U.K.
"She wanted to know if I was all right," said Odell. "I had to tell her that America was a big country and that it's a long way from Pittsburgh to San Francisco."