Ford Motor Co. has tapped a company veteran and information technology expert as its next head of mobility, a post left open by the promotion of newly appointed CEO Jim Hackett.
Marcy Klevorn, 57, joined Ford in 1983 on the telecom team, and most recently was the automaker's chief information officer and group vice president of information technology. In her new position, which takes effect June 1, Klevorn will oversee Ford's investments in new mobility technologies outside the company's traditional automotive business. As president of mobility, she will run Ford Smart Mobility, a Ford subsidiary spun off last year.
Klevorn joined Ford from AT&T, where she worked on the automaker's corporate account. She went on to work in IT in a variety of Ford's business divisions, including Ford Motor Credit Co. and Ford of Europe. In 2015, Klevorn became the company's first female chief information officer. She was named to Automotive News' list of 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry in 2010 and 2015.
Throughout her career, Klevorn has helped bring Ford into the digital era, cutting costs along the way. While she was global head of IT operations between 2006 and 2011, IT costs dropped 30 percent, according to Fast Company.
"I've been able to move around, learn new businesses and leverage that network I've gotten to know over the years," she told Crain's Detroit Business in 2015. "I've built a reputation, and it's helped us get things done."
Klevorn will face new challenges leading Ford's mobility ventures. Under former CEO Mark Fields' leadership, Ford invested heavily in a range of technologies, including shuttle service startup Chariot, artificial intelligence startup Argo AI, lidar sensor-maker Velodyne and bike-share network Motivate — a strategy Mark Platshon, managing director of venture capital fund Icebreaker Ventures, called "scatter shot."
As the industry moves toward automated vehicles and new models of car ownership, Klevorn is charged with maintaining a focused mobility strategy while staying competitive with new Silicon Valley players. As an IT veteran, she's familiar with this dynamic, especially when it comes to attracting talent.
"Competition for the skills we need is fierce, and attracting people to the auto industry in Michigan is challenging," Klevorn told Crain's Detroit Business. "This is really a technology business, and that's tough to relay sometimes. I feel it's my responsibility to make sure we are well-positioned for the future."
Hackett has not said whether Ford will stick to its plan to introduce a fully autonomous vehicle for ride-hailing fleets by 2021 — a target Fields set in August.
Still, Klevorn will need to keep the fast pace she has set managing IT operations to secure a future for Ford in an increasingly competitive mobility field.