One day after Raj Nair, Ford’s North America president, abruptly resigned from the company amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, the automaker has moved rapidly to stabilize the leadership of its most important market.
Ford announced Thursday that Kumar Galhotra, who was promoted to be chief marketing officer last year, would take over as group vice president and president for the US and Canada unit.
In a statement, CEO Jim Hackett said Ford was “very fortunate to have an experienced and committed executive team in place driving every day to significantly strengthen our business while building toward our vision of becoming the world’s most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.”
Before becoming CMO following the departure of then-CEO Mark Fields last year, Galhotra oversaw the revival of the Lincoln luxury brand.
Like Nair, Galhotra, 52, is a Ford veteran. Nair spent three decades at the company before departing after an investigation into allegations of unacceptable personal conduct (Ford told Business Insider the allegations were not of a financial nature). Galhotra has been with the automaker for 29 years.
“Kumar is an incredibly talented executive with a special feel for product and brand. He is also a seasoned leader who knows how to drive a business transformation,” Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president and president of global markets, said in a statement.
“Kumar is the right person to lead our North American business to new levels of operational fitness, product and brand excellence, and profitability.”
Additional management changes announced
Ford also announced several other management changes. Ford Credit CEO Joy Falotico will take over at Lincoln and assume Galhotra’s role as CMO. David McClelland will take on Falotico’s role, and Galhotra will be assisted by Stuart Rowley, who will become vice president and chief operating officer of Ford North America.
Ford’s deep executive bench has been a valuable resource as the company transforms itself to address opportunities in electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and shared mobility. When Fields stepped down, Hackett was able to call on executives such as Galhotra and Nair to step up.
Nair’s sudden departure after years of increasing responsibility — some observers saw him as a possible future CEO candidate — created a serious problem for the company.
The North American business drives the majority of Ford’s profits, with a sales mix rich in high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs. It’s critical to funding Hackett’s strategy of moving Ford into emerging opportunities and ensuring what he calls the carmaker’s “fitness” to be fully prepared for what comes next in an industry undergoing rapid change.
Ford shares lagged other carmakers’ and the markets in 2017 and are down 16% year-to-date.