Former Ford CEO takes new gig in private equity

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields’ next role is in private equity.

Fields recently began working as a senior adviser for global private equity firm TPG Capital, the company announced. Fields was let go from Ford in late May.

“At TPG, we are focused on developing investment along secular themes, seeking value creation opportunities created by major economic, technological and social changes, such as the rise of e-commerce, smart devices, sophisticated outsourced services and big data,” Jack Daly, partner at TPG, said in a news release. “This is a different approach to investing in the industrials sector compared to focusing on a fragmented array of subsectors impacted by a variety of trends and drivers. Mark is an invaluable addition to our team as we pursue this sector and look to build growth-oriented, technology-enabled businesses.”

Fields was Ford’s president and CEO for three years, following former CEO Alan Mulally, who guided the Dearborn-based automaker through the Great Recession. Fields had been a rising star before getting the top spot in July 2014 at the age of 56. His work over 28 years produced a globe-trotting resume, work on multiple continents and a turnaround at Mazda of which Ford owned a large stake at the time.

But when he took charge in July 2014, Fields was stepping into the shoes of a man who had put his own definitive stamp on the Blue Oval. Mulally became CEO late in 2006 and moved the company from $30 billion in losses during his first two years, to 19 consecutive quarters of growth and $42 billion in profits before departing in 2014.

The month Fields took over, Ford shares closed at $17.41. The company’s stock prices declined roughly 40 percent by the time he left the company.

Ford replaced Fields with Jim Hackett, who Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. dubbed a “change agent.”

TPG in a news release said Fields’ experience leading significant transformations through new technology at Ford make him valuable at the firm. The firm, founded in 1992, manages $73 billion in assets. The company recently invested in a supply chain logistics company names Transplace, and sees further opportunities in mobility, among other things.

“New technology is driving change and creating opportunities for growth and value creation throughout business operations,” Fields said in a news release. “That gives us the opportunity to rethink traditional industrial applications, such as supply chains, like never before.

“Having spent my career in an industry that was, and continues to be, on the leading edge of technology and disruption, I look forward to working with TPG to find new opportunities to create change and innovate throughout the industrial sector.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau