Mulally’s possible entry at Microsoft may distract from Ford’s new models

Article by Anita Panait, on December 19, 2013

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally has been speculated to be one of the possible successors to the top job at Microsoft Corp. However, the speculation is threatening to eclipse Ford’s vehicle introductions and may lead to internal strife among Mulally’s deputies. Ford is planning to introduce 23 vehicles in 2014, which means a very busy year for the company. However, the speculation could become a distraction at a time when Ford needs to focus on “plants, products and people,” according to Michelle Krebs, an analyst for auto researcher Edmunds.com.

She noted that Ford needs to focus on the business as it is launching more products in 2014 than any time in its history. Mulally, Executive Chairman Bill Ford and other company leaders, have been reiterating a 13-month-old plan that called for the current CEO to remain Ford’s top honcho through at least next year.

While the carmaker has established COO Mark Fields as the next CEO, the timing of Mulally’s exit could lead to executive infighting, a source privy with the matter, told Bloomberg. Mulally is renowned for cultivating a more collaborative culture at Ford, which had been plagued by backbiting and dysfunction.

Mulally’s friendly yet firm personal style has helped him turn Ford into a company where executives cooperate to solve each other’s problems, Fields and other Ford executives have said.

While Mulally is considered as one of the possible candidates to become the next CEO of Microsoft, his apparent lack of computer industry background could offset his track record as a successful manager, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Another candidate for the top job at Microsoft, Steve Mollenkopf, was stricken off the list last week after Qualcomm Inc. promoted him as its CEO.

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