Ford hires John Casesa as head of global strategy

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday said John Casesa, a former auto analyst and investment banker, will fill a newly-created position of vice president of global strategy.

Casesa will report directly to CEO Mark Fields as the most senior leader and corporate officer overseeing global strategy and business development and will lead a team "focused on enhancing existing business strategies and identifying and evaluating new opportunities for profitable growth," Ford said.

He will start March 1.

"John knows business and the auto industry inside and out," Fields said in a statement. "His deep experience and relationships will help guide and shape our global strategies — particularly as we challenge today's business model and push to innovate to make us even stronger tomorrow."

Ford said Casesa will lead the company's investments in new products, technologies and business models supporting a focus on innovation and Ford's smart mobility efforts.

Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst at IHS Automotive, said in a statement, "Fields has selected someone from the outside who will bring a fresh view to the plans and opportunities, and likely able to spot strengths and weaknesses in existing plans more dispassionately than the executives who created them."

The move is the latest in a number of executive team shakeups since Fields took over as CEO last July. His first major move was to appoint a separate president for Ford's luxury brand, Lincoln, and he has since swapped the roles of Jim Farley and Stephen Odell — now head of Europe and global marketing sales and service, respectively. Earlier this month, John Felice, Ford's head of U.S. marketing, sales and service, retired; Mark LaNeve took over.

"Fields seems to be creating a strong mix of internal and external voices, building a team that can help him lead the company," Brinley said.

Casesa, 52, was most recently senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners, where he led the firm's automotive investment banking activities. Before that, he was an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. and Schroders PLC. He also served as product planning analyst at General Motors Co.

He has a bachelor of science degree from St. John's University and a master of business administration degree from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

"He's very knowledgeable on the industry," said Efraim Levy, an equity analyst with S&P Capital IQ, who worked with Casesa in his analyst days. "He's bringing an outsider's view of the company. A lot of the Ford management team has been there for awhile. You don't want to get too complacent. It makes sense to bring in a knowledgeable outsider."