Joy Falotico, 53
Chief Marketing Officer and President, Lincoln, Ford Motor Co.
Location: Dearborn, Mich.
Education: B.S., business administration, Truman State University; MBA, DePaul University
What drew you to the auto industry? I was right out of college. It was the late ’80s. What drew me to the auto industry was the company. I was looking to work for a great company. At the end of my job search I had the opportunity to pick between GE and Ford. I picked Ford. It was a bit more of an emotional decision. I was looking for the rationale to go with it, so I looked them both up on the Fortune 500 and in 1989, Ford was No. 3 and GE was No. 5, so that gave me the rationale to go with my emotional decision.
First automotive job: I joined Ford in 1989 and I started in Kansas City, Mo. I was a customer service rep on the finance side.
Big break: There’s not, for me, one big break. There’s been a series of opportunities that allowed me to demonstrate my acumen. The first that was pivotal was working with the dealer body. I had the responsibility to put together very large and complex funding arrangements for dealers. I got some feedback, which was a compliment, that I had the ability to do the back-end finance piece and the front-end piece of it. At the time they told me most people did one or the other and not too many people did both. For me, that was a pivotal move. I was bumped up two levels to supervise that area. The other couple things that happened, I had an international services assignment in Europe. It was a huge learning gain with responsibility for 21 countries on the finance side of the business. Then of course I had another big learning gain when I got the dual role I have today.
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What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? The complexity of the business is just different today than it was 30 years ago, along with the workload that comes with that. COVID even brought on a new level of crisis management in what we needed to do to set up the dealers, set up the marketing and continue to run the marketing during sheltering in place. It’s all about that complexity and the workload and really trying to balance that with having a family and being the mother of two teenage daughters. That’s been a challenge I’ve tried to balance my whole career.
You’ve been in the industry 31 years. What has been the most important change you’ve seen? Technology. If you look at technology, the way we use it today to do the business, the presence it has in the vehicles, the hardware moving the software, that to me is hands down the biggest change I’ve seen and how it’s impacted everything, from making the business easier in some areas but also disrupting the industry as well.
What work achievement are you most proud of? One of the highlights of my career was when I was the COO and even as CEO of the credit company. In collaborating with the dealers and with NADA to really navigate through the regulatory environment with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and to really find a place of coexisting and understanding each other. That was a huge collaboration effort. That was a big accomplishment and was something I was deeply involved with for several years.
What have you learned from the COVID-19 crisis? I went through the last crisis, but we were all at work together. This crisis, we were all at home. I’ve spent more time at my [home] office I’m sitting in now than I ever thought I would in my entire life. I think the biggest change or learning for me is learning how to be effective virtually. I’ve worked globally for years, but it’s different when it’s 24/7 and everything’s virtual and you’re really trying to create that human connection with your team when you’re all looking at each other in a little box on a video.
How do you bring your best self to work? For Joy to be her best Joy, I need to get a decent amount of rest. I strive to do that, although some days are better than others. I also think that to be my best for the team, I’m better off if I have a little time to prepare. I like to see the materials in advance; I’m a deep thinker. Every once in awhile I like to shoot from the hip, but most of the issues raised to my level are not softballs. They’re big, meaty issues. Sometimes I like to take a moment at the beginning of the meeting and just peruse the materials myself. Just taking five minutes to do a page flip and understand the team’s thinking allows me to get my juices flowing so I can give them the best advice. I try to always be respectful not only of my time, but their time as well. I try to make sure, are we advancing the discussion or not? Being rested and ready to go and being organized helps me be the best I can be.
— Michael Martinez