Like GM, Ford has hired its own Wall Street guy — longtime auto guru John Casesa, formerly head of the automotive investing sector at Guggenheim Partners. His job will be the top spot in global strategy, with a special focus on finding new roads — sorry, Chevy — for the global One Ford global business strategy. As VP, global strategy, which he starts next month, he will report to CEO Mark Fields.
“Ford is a growth company in a dramatically growing global industry,” said Fields in a statement. “It is more important than ever that we operate with a focus on delivering today’s business and an equal focus on anticipating and meeting the needs of customers five, 10 and 15 years down the road.”
Until recently the One Ford plan has been about global manufacturing efficiency, meaning making cars and trucks suitable for all markets, where platform-sharing controls costs. Examples: Ford Focus, and Fiesta, which started in Europe and came to the U.S. later. But a key task for Casesa will be ushering Ford Smart Mobility along at a good clip.
The global program, which Fields introduced at last year's CES, focuses on R&D around such social trends as the proliferation around the world of “mega-cities,” car sharing, autonomous vehicles, and the potential for opportunities to grow — paradoxically — out of non-ownership of mobility. It is also the umbrella program for customer experience and big-data management. The kickoff was a funding program for 25 discrete experiments around the world.
Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, tells Marketing Daily that an auto industry analyst could excel at a position at the catbird seat. "Someone that has a broad perspective on the marketplace that is responsible for fostering relationships across the industry could bring a fresh perspective that will help Ford to think outside of the box."
Casesa will certainly have to juggle the present and the future: global vehicle strategy now, and something of a gimlet eye for what's next. He will likely work closely with Sheryl Connelly, who has been Ford's trends analyst and futurist for a decade.
Gutierrez sees positives there as well. "I would assume that the time horizon of a futurist is well beyond the scope of someone responsible for global strategy," he says. "Think global platform sharing and product design vs. autonomous vehicles in terms of areas of responsibility."
Casesa has done his own work in the forward-thinking realm. He has written several papers of note over the years, but most pertinent to the new job may be one from 2005 that he worked up with the World Resources Institute, the forward looking, clean vehicle focused, “Energy Security & Climate Change.”
Before Guggenheim Partners he was an analyst at Merrill Lynch for 20 years, and Schroders PLC. He also served as a product planning analyst at General Motors and was a co-owner of domestic and import auto dealerships in the U.S. northeast region.