Jacklyn Watt, 36
Director, North America interior purchasing, Ford Motor Co.
Big break: Successful stints in purchasing in Australia and China
Jacklyn Watt has never enjoyed being in a comfort zone.
In fact, she often seeks life experiences — and jobs — that push her outside it.
A fan of travel, Watt, 36, has lived in Australia and China. She raised the first of her two sons in China and said the experience “set the tone” for the family’s life.
It’s no different at Ford Motor Co., which Watt joined in 2006. She was the company’s director of supply chain sustainability before being named director of North America interior purchasing in January.
“My answer is usually, I want the large problem,” she said. “I don’t want the team that’s overachieving.”
In her sustainability role, which started in 2016, Watt was charged with ensuring Ford obtained vehicle materials in ethically responsible ways, among other duties. Sustainability is a favorite topic of Executive Chairman Bill Ford, and the process of how companies procure materials is under more scrutiny.
It can be a lot to keep track of. Ford has about 1,200 Tier 1 production suppliers providing up to 40,000 parts per vehicle.
But under Watt’s watch, in 2018, Ford for the first time was recognized among the top 5 percent of corporations for its due diligence and transparency with conflict minerals, such as tin, tungsten and gold, according to the Responsible Sourcing Network.
Another hot-button issue is cobalt, which is used in lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles. There are growing social concerns about how the material is mined in African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ford has committed to the ethical sourcing of cobalt, and the sustainability team plans to visit mines in Africa in the near future.
“Given EVs are going to play a large role in Ford’s future, we wanted to make sure ... all the cobalt was sourced responsibly,” she said.
Watt’s role as head of interior purchasing means she’s taking on another new challenge: leading procurement for every aspect of a vehicle’s interior. She’s hoping to use connections she made with the supplier community from her previous position.
“It’s quite an exciting area,” she said. “It’s a great connection between my old job and the new.”
— Michael Martinez