GERMANY: Mazda continues to be the training school for Ford of Europe's top executives
In its latest jobs reshuffle, Ford of Europe has recruited two Mazda executives to top jobs at its Cologne, Germany, headquarters.
Stephen Odell becomes Ford of Europe's marketing vice president September 1.
Odell, 50, currently is senior managing executive for marketing, sales and service at Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan. Joe Bakaj was appointed Ford of Europe's product development chief on August 1. Bakaj, 43, had the same role at Mazda.
Their boss, Ford of Europe chairman Lewis Booth, was president and CEO of Mazda in Hiroshima for a year before he came to Cologne in 2003. And Booth's boss Mark Fields, chairman of Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe, also ran Mazda before Booth.
Ford owns 33.4% of Mazda.
"Mazda has brought out the most successful and appealing products in the Ford empire over the last five or six years," said Garel Rhys, director for the Centre for Automotive Research at Cardiff University in Wales. "Ford is a product-led company. The success of Mazda products has been clearly noted.
Rhys added: "Perhaps some of Mazda's success will rub off on the products of Ford of Europe."
For Odell, the assignment to Cologne marks an abrupt change of course. In May, he was named chairman elect of Ford of Britain and had been scheduled to start July 1.
But that was before an executive reshuffling at Ford of Europe and PAG was announced July 20. That reshuffle will send Ford of Europe marketing chief Geoff Polites [a one-time head of Ford Australia] to Britain as chief executive of Jaguar and Land Rover, replacing Joe Greenwell, 54, who will take a new job as vice president of government affairs for Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group.
That means Odell will now replace Polites, 57, in Cologne instead of going to Ford's UK headquarters in Brentwood, England. Odell will report to Booth.
Roger Putnam, 59, who had been scheduled to retire as chairman of Ford of Britain, will remain in his post.
Joe Bakaj succeeds Derrick Kuzak running Ford's European product development team August 1. Kuzak has been named vice president, North America Engineering, effective August 1. Kuzak is replacing Will Boddie, Jr., who is retiring. He will have overall responsibility for engineering signoff of all North American vehicles and direct responsibility for key commodities and common platform parts.
Since coming to Cologne in 2000, Kuzak has led Ford's European product development effort. His tenure was marked by a product-based restructuring that helped the unit return to profit.
Automotive News Europe