Ford Motor Co. reached outside the auto industry for its next global chief marketing officer, installing former eBay North American CMO Suzy Deering in the position.
Deering, 51, left eBay in mid-October after five years. She joined the online marketplace after being CEO of Atlanta ad agency Moxie. Before that, she logged time in marketing roles at Home Depot and Verizon. Deering lacks significant experience in automotive, according to her LinkedIn page, making her selection unusual for an industry that tends to hire top marketing leaders from within.
Her selection signals that Ford wants to continue to bolster its tech chops as it increasingly competes with Silicon Valley companies such as Tesla, Uber and Lyft. In a Tuesday statement, Ford described Deering as “accomplished at using technology, data and analytics to anticipate customer needs and fulfill them with human-centered products and services.”
“Technology will be a powerful part of Ford’s transformation and how we enhance and release the huge value of our iconic brands,” Deering said in a statement. “My team will be involved from end-to-end on behalf of customers — better connecting with them, using data to foresee and deliver what they need and earning and keeping their trust.”
Deering succeeds Joy Falotico, who vacated the CMO role in early October to focus on Ford’s Lincoln brand as part of a management overhaul orchestrated by new Ford CEO Jim Farley, who is a former marketer. By installing a new marketing leader with an extensive marketing background, Farley is signaling that he wants to give more heft to the role.
Ford stated that Deering will be charged with “modernizing marketing, driving brand strategy and best practices and developing marketing talent,” and she will run all marketing operations in North America, which accounts for more than 70 percent of Ford’s automotive revenue.
Deering, who starts on Jan. 4, will report to Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Americas and International Markets Group. “We’re putting more decision-making in the hands of our people who are closest to customers,” Galhotra said. “That makes marketing more important than ever, and Suzy’s world-class background will be vital to modernizing our approach, dialing up our understanding of customer ambitions and redefining our brands to help us grow.”
Ford’s ad agencies include Wieden+Kennedy and BBDO.
In another announcement on Tuesday, Ford said longtime manufacturing executive Linda Cash is retiring as quality, new-vehicle launch leader, effective Jan. 1.
Cash, 58, also was executive director of global vehicle operations and chief engineer for final assembly. In addition, she was executive director of the global manufacturing business office, manager of the Michigan Truck assembly plant and director of North America manufacturing engineering.
In her 36 years in the industry, Cash also was an adviser for colleagues through Women in Manufacturing and the Ford employees' African-Ancestry Network.
“Linda has always been an innovator,” Galhotra said in the company statement. “She’s a remarkable leader and change agent, someone who can pivot quickly and effectively as circumstances evolve, and her contributions to Ford have been invaluable.”
Cash was included on the 2020 Automotive News list of 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.
Chris Brewer, who has been with Ford since 1986, will take over Cash’s responsibilities for quality as executive director. Ford said Brewer most recently was director of vehicle programs for trucks and SUVs.
"He has extensive experience leading product development programs, including for an all-new Transit commercial van for North America and Europe while based in Dunton, U.K.," the company statement said.
Whitney McDonald contributed to this report.