Ford announces two retirements, four promotions amid ongoing leadership changes

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Mark Ovenden

Two senior Ford Motor Co. executives will retire, the automaker announced Tuesday, amid an ongoing management shakeup under new CEO Jim Farley.

Mark Ovenden, 56, president of Ford's International Markets Group, will retire Feb. 1 after a 35-year career with the Dearborn automaker. Gary Johnson, 56, Ford's chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, will also retire Feb. 1, capping a career that began in 1986.

Ovenden will be succeeded by Dianne Craig, 56, who currently heads FordDirect, a digital marketing joint venture with Ford and Lincoln dealers. Johnson will be succeeded by John Savona, 52, who is head of North America manufacturing.

Gary Johnson

The leadership changes are the latest in a staffing overhaul under Farley, who took over as CEO Oct. 1. Longtime Ford employee John Lawler replaced chief financial officer Tim Stone in October. And chief information officer Jeff Lemmer is slated to retire Jan. 1. The automaker also previously announced it would separate the jobs of leading Lincoln and serving as Ford's chief marketing officer.

Meanwhile, company veterans Dave Filipe, 53, and Chuck Gray, 56, are being promoted to positions tied to the new business plan detailed by Farley.

Dianne Craig

That plan calls for the Blue Oval to turn around its automotive operations by improving quality, reducing costs and accelerating the restructuring of underperforming businesses. Farley looks to achieve growth by investing more capital and resources in the automaker's strengths, expanding its commercial business, and offering "compelling, uniquely Ford" electric vehicles "at scale around the world," among other steps.

Filipe will become vice president of vehicle hardware modules, and Gray will become vice president of vehicle embedded software and controls. The new roles were announced as the automaker under Farley invests heavily in digitally connected vehicles, where it sees potential for new revenue tied to data-driven services.  

John Savona

Ovenden previously was president of Middle East and Africa, vice president of marketing, sales and service in the Asia Pacific market, led the transformation of Ford's joint-venture company in Russia, and was chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain, the company said in a news release. Most recently, he helped establish and lead the international markets group. He is credited with helping drive demand for the Ranger pickup truck and improving the company's business in nearly 100 different markets around the world.

His successor, Craig, has worked at Ford since 1986; she previously was director of U.S. sales and as president and CEO of Ford of Canada. 

Johnson began his career with the Blue Oval working as a paint-shop supervisor at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant. He previously led manufacturing in the Asia Pacific and North America markets; oversaw construction of 12 new plants; and is credited with playing a significant role in Ford's efforts during the pandemic to produce personal protective and medical equipment, as well as helping develop a return-to-work guide to keep workers safe. In his current role, Johnson leads operations for every Ford assembly, stamping and powertrain plant.

Savona has worked at Ford since 1989, starting out as a security guard at the automaker's assembly plant in Wayne. He went on to serve in a "variety of supervisory and management roles with increasing responsibility," according to the automaker. He has led North America manufacturing since 2018. Savona, who is a U.S. Army veteran, also serves as executive champion for the Ford Veteran's Network Group.

Dave Filipe

The new roles assigned to Filipe and Gray are part of the automaker's ongoing restructuring of its industrial platform. 

Most recently, Filipe was vice president of powertrain engineering and Gray was vice president of vehicle components and systems.

The new positions are a reflection of the automaker's ongoing transition to electric vehicles. The Blue Oval has committed to investing more than $11.5 billion in EV development through 2022, and is now in the process of rolling out its first generation of EVs. The electric Mustang Mach-E SUV recently launched, and electric versions of the F-150 pickup truck and Transit cargo van are slated to launch before the end of 2022.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski

Chuck Gray