After a nearly two-decade career at Toyota, Farley joined Ford in 2007 and has served in multiple leadership positions in business units around the world. His latest role will be his most challenging, as he attempts to steer Ford through a transformation of its product portfolio at a time when it's under intense pressure from Wall Street to deliver profits.
CEO Jim Hackett said Farley is the "right person" for the position, and dealers describe him as a hands-on car guy and marketing whiz. His promotion comes as Ford parts ways with Joe Hinrichs, its president of automotive who was seen as Farley's chief competitor to eventually succeed Hackett.
"I'm very humbled by this responsibility to work with Bill [Ford] and Jim and all the team members," Farley said in an interview. "My grandfather joined the company in the early 1900s. I think of him every day when I walk the halls at Ford, and I think about the responsibility we have as leaders to make the right decisions for our retailers and customers."
He said his top priorities in his new role relate to operational execution.
"We've made the tough decisions on the portfolio and our regional adjustments," he told Automotive News. "It's really down to executing this new lineup and taking advantage of new capabilities like connectivity. We have all these new products coming out, so we need to launch them and use them to improve our financial performance."
Ford's stock continued its downward trend last week after the company posted a $1.7 billion fourth-quarter loss, partly attributable to the troubled launch of the Explorer crossover. Hackett said Ford needed to act with more urgency and improve its execution.
"I think when Ford's at its best, we're just perfectionists," Farley said. "Everything has to go really well. Hope isn't a strategy. These launches are very complex, and the team has to get a performance improvement."