Ford names former Amazon, Snap Inc. exec next CFO

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
Ford Motor Co. has named Tim Stone its next CFO

Ford Motor Co.'s most recent executive hire marks the second time in less than six months that one of Detroit's automakers has turned to Silicon Valley to fill a top role.

Ford said Thursday that Tim Stone, 52, would replace Bob Shanks, 66, at the Dearborn automaker on June 1. Stone, who worked in finance at Amazon Inc. before becoming chief financial officer of Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat and Bitmoji, will report directly to CEO Jim Hackett.

Tim Stone

It's the first time in decades that Ford is hiring outside the company to fill the company's top financial role, a change under CEO Jim Hackett as he moves to cut costs and restructure the company around the globe.

Stone's first day with Ford is April 15. Shanks will retire at the end of this year. In the meantime, Shanks will help with the transition, then work on special projects through the end of the year.

"We’re so excited to have Tim join Ford at this incredible time for our company as we strive to become the world’s most trusted company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world," Hackett said in a statement "He was a key player in the incredible success at Amazon and he understands the principles of fitness and growth as complementary virtues for Ford’s future."

Tom Szkutak, Amazon chief financial officer 2002-15 and Stone's former boss, said Stone is a "talented" leader who has strong judgment and business partnership skills. Stone led finance for such things as the Kindle and Amazon Web Services during his time at Amazon. He's the second ex-Amazon employee to take a high-level position in at one of the Detroit Three in less than six months. 

Mark Stewart, formerly of Amazon Inc., joined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in December as chief operating officer.

General Motors appointed 39-year-old Dhivya Suryadevara to the CFO job last year. GM's first female CFO, Suryadevara moved her way up through the ranks at GM and played key roles in GM’s exit from Europe, acquiring Cruise Automation and arranging SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruise LLC. 

Said Stone: "Thirty years ago, through my father’s business, I witnessed firsthand the importance of Ford to our economy and our community... I am honored to join this iconic company and put my experience building the businesses of the future toward helping Ford build its next 100 years."

Stone replaces a 42-year veteran of the company. Shanks started at Ford in 1977, when Henry Ford II was CEO. Shanks was chief financial officer of the company's Premier Automotive Group, which oversaw Ford's high-end automotive brands in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He worked in various roles within the company before being appointed CFO in 2012. 

Shanks was one of the Ford executives who helped guide the automaker through the Great Recession. 

In addition to Shanks' retirement, Ford announced two other executive changes and business moves as it restructures. Peter Fleet, 51, president of International Markets Group, will retire April 1. Fleet ran Ford's Asia Pacific business before the automaker broke out its Chinese business from that unit as it tries to fix the business model. 

Fleet is set to be replaced by Mark Ovenden, 54, who is currently president of Ford Middle East & Africa. The International Markets Group will become a reporting business unit Jan. 1, the automaker said. International Markets will oversee 100 markets, including Africa, Australia, India, Mexico, Middle East, New Zealand and South Korea. That follows the company's decision in 2018 to break the Chinese business unit away from the Asia Pacific group.

Ford President of Global Markets Jim Farley said in a statement that the International Markets Group will help Ford capitalize on emerging markets.

Also, Stuart Rowley, 51, chief operating officer for Ford North America, will be the company's new president of Ford Europe. Steven Armstrong, 54, who is currently the president of the European business, will become chairman of Ford of Europe. Birgit Behrendt, vice president, Joint Ventures, Alliances and Commercial Affairs in Europe also plans to retire.

Those changes are effective April 1.

Ford's European business is undergoing a sweeping restructuring, which could result in job cuts and plant closures in addition to the planned product overhaul there.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau