I joined Ford Motor Company the week following completion of my undergraduate degree in 1979, and have never questioned that decision. I have worked in a variety of positions – from accounting and finance to government and community relations, as well as the launch of our corporate social responsibility reporting – and feel particularly privileged to have had the opportunity to work for many years in the Chairman’s Office. I am most grateful at this time to be able to represent our company in a variety of civic and community capacities.
Based in Dearborn, Ford designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide, including approximately 40,000 in Michigan.
I think the greatest challenge facing our business/industry today is trying to understand the rapidly evolving definition and structure of personal transportation on a global basis, and determining how our company best fits in now and in the years ahead. In addition to our traditional competitors, the number and variety of new companies competing for a piece of the personal transportation business has grown exponentially in recent years – particularly with the advent of smart mobility and autonomous driving – and the policy and legislative matters affecting all of us have grown similarly as well.
The greatest opportunity facing us in this environment is determining the best area(s) for us to maximize our strengths in and capitalize on them as soon as practical. There is tremendous potential for a company like ours to re-define the notion of “opening the highways to all mankind,” something that our founder Henry Ford declared was the philosophy of the company in an ad in The Saturday Evening Post in 1924. The message was intended to convey the company’s transformative, service-oriented, and mission-based nature – both future-focused and optimistic – and I think staying true to that philosophy will once again serve us well at this pivotal time in our industry’s history.
WHY I BELONG TO THE CHAMBER
One of the most important things that sets Ford Motor Company apart from many other companies its size is a sense of family and the responsibility that comes with it. Starting with the presence of Ford Family members leading and working in the company, it is a feeling that others on the outside frequently note and comment about. That sense of family leads us as a company to be actively engaged in a wide variety of community and civic organizations that we feel make a difference in the world around us. Our Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, has said, “A good company delivers excellent products and services; a great one delivers excellent products and services and strives to make the world a better place.”
The Michigan Chamber, founded shortly after Ford Motor Company went public and composed of dozens of important businesses and represented universally by motivated and caring people throughout our great state, is a good example of a partnering organization that helps companies like ours deliver on making the world a better place by collectively making a difference on policy matters affecting Michigan.
WHY I SERVE AS A VOLUNTEER LEADER
I participated in the Michigan Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Michigan program in 1995, and have reflected frequently on that experience as one of the best outside engagements I have been fortunate to enjoy over my entire working career. Led by stellar staff, the class size and composition of roughly 20 business professionals and a few non-profit leaders from all parts of the state provided an extremely rewarding learning experience, along with a set of friends I still cherish to this day. Serving as a Board member of the Chamber has been a real privilege, providing me an opportunity personally to give back in a small way to two organizations that have invested in me throughout my career.
I think my involvement has benefitted Ford specifically by maintaining our active presence with a respected venue and voice. The Chamber keeps us well informed about legislative and political issues that matter to our business, while simultaneously providing an organized way to share our own positions and thoughts with others. The Chamber also has invited us to participate in a number of their special events and programs that broaden our exposure throughout the state.
A KEY TAKEAWAY
Henry Ford believed that, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Today, 114 years after the company was established, that sentiment still rings true and is often cited by others. I am a disciple of that thinking, and couldn’t be more grateful for having the opportunity I have had to be a small part of that ongoing effort.