Issue: Apr 2006


The World is Watching Bill Ford, the recipient of the 2006 Automotive Industry Executive of the Year



Extracts from the exclusive interview with Actionline magazine -- the official publication of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)

by John Larkin

In an exclusive interview with AIAG's Actionline magazine, Ford Motor Company's chairman and CEO reveals what keeps him up at night and shares his vision for how the North American automotive industry can be saved.

On the heels of Ford Motor Company's Way Forward announcement, Bill Ford, chairman of the board and CEO, discloses his hopes and fears for the automotive industry and provides details on how Ford Motor Company will try to create a profitable, sustainable business model that will not only turn around his own company, but also serve as a benchmark for other automotive companies in the areas of executive leadership, environmental friendliness, working conditions and corporate sustainability.

Ford, the recipient of the 2006 Automotive Industry Executive of the Year award -- sponsored by DNV Certification and AIAG -- is recognized for his insightful leadership in streamlining the company's supply chain, committing the company to rebuilding long-term, trusting relationships with its suppliers and courage in making tough decisions to secure the company's future. In the interview, he discusses the role of executive leaders in the North American automotive industry: "The No. 1 thing people are going to be looking at is executive behavior ... Too often, executives think that all they have to do is lay out the vision and others will follow. That's not true; what they're really following are your actions and listening to the kind of tone you set, and they're watching to see if you live up to what you're saying."


Other highlights from the interview include:


On the North American auto industry's future: "What we need to do as an industry is figure out what we are for, where we can be proactive, rather than just saying 'no' and 'leave us alone.' Then we need to go out and build a coalition and get it done."


On the Way Forward Plan: "I understand that people are nervous and people are scared, and they have every right to be ... We can't be Pollyannaish and tell them, 'Don't worry, everything is going to be OK,' because it won't be OK unless we really start to hit some targets ... The good news is ... we have the liquidity and we're making the investments in R&D. There's nothing holding us back at this point but ourselves."


On his environmental efforts: "I was spoken to early in my career by some of the top management in Ford Motor Company saying, 'OK, you've got to knock this off because these environmentalists are all nuts and you're just going to get us into trouble.' But I had no intention of backing off and always felt that if I was ever in a position to do something about it, I would."


On working conditions in the global supply chain: "We're holding suppliers accountable to a working conditions standard ... It's the cost of doing business with us ... We're headed down this road and we're not turning back."

The full interview can be read at http://www.aiag.org/ .

Actionline is the official publication of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). Since 1982 Actionline has been the voice of the North American automotive supply chain, delivering in-depth information and analysis with unique perspectives on all aspects of the auto industry. Featuring authors and columnists who are experts in their fields, Actionline is a valuable resource for OEMs, suppliers, solution providers, academic and government.

Founded in 1982, AIAG is a globally recognized organization where OEMs and suppliers unite to address and resolve issues affecting the worldwide automotive supply chain. AIAG's goals are to reduce cost and complexity through collaboration; improve product quality, health, safety and the environment; and optimize speed to market throughout the supply chain. Headquartered in the metro Detroit area, its more than 1,500 member companies include North American, European and Asia-Pacific OEMs and suppliers to the automotive industry. Additional information is available on the Internet at http://www.aiag.org/ .


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