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Ford announces new roles for Armstrong, Watters as company speeds turnarounds of key regional units

Two senior executives are getting new strategic assignments, as Ford accelerates improvements to its global automotive business – to the benefit of customers and the company

Two senior executives are getting new strategic assignments, as Ford accelerates improvements to its global automotive business – to the benefit of customers and the company.

Steven Armstrong, who has led the Changan Ford joint venture in China for the past year and one-half, will become transformation officer, South America and India, effective May 1.  In that role, he will lead evaluation of capital allocations to India and conclusion of restructuring of Ford’s South America business.

The company said in January that, going forward, it will serve customers in South America with exciting connected and increasingly electrified SUVs, pickups and commercial vehicles sourced from Argentina, Uruguay and other markets.

At the same time, Daniel Justo, currently Ford’s CFO in the region, will become, president, Ford South America.  Justo and Anurag Mehrotra, managing director, Ford of India, both will report to Armstrong in his new role.

After a transition period, Lyle Watters, who is presently Ford’s president, South America and International Markets Group, and headed the transformation planning for South America, will relocate to Shanghai and take on the newly created position of general manager, Ford Passenger Vehicle Division, within Ford China, starting July 1.

Watters and his team will be accountable for broadening Ford’s appeal to and enhancing the experience of customers with must-have products and services – more and more of them developed in-country for China consumers.  At last week’s Shanghai Auto Show, Ford China unveiled the latest additions to its rapidly expanding vehicle portfolio:  the Escape plug-in hybrid SUV; a localized version of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E; and the fully networked EVOS, the first product from Ford’s China 2.0 plan.

Both Watters and Armstrong are Ford corporate officers.  Armstrong will report to Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas and International Markets Group, along with Dianne Craig, who became president of Ford’s International Markets Group in February.  In his new position, Watters will report to Anning Chen, president and CEO, Ford China.

A native of the United Kingdom, Armstrong’s 34-year career has included assignments around the globe – including, at different times, as chairman, vice president and CEO of Ford of Europe; president, Ford South America, and, before that, Ford Brazil; and in the United States, Sweden and Germany.

Watters started with Ford in Great Britain in 1987 and has held leadership positions throughout Europe and in North America, in addition to South America since 2016.  Among other roles, he has been controller for Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, and, variously, Business Strategy Director, CFO and head of Strategic Planning for Ford of Europe.

He Xiaoqing will be Armstrong’s successor as president of Changan Ford and report to Watters.  He joined Ford China in April 2019 as director, Enterprise Alliances.  He previously held several national and international senior leadership positions and is a well-respected leader in the China automotive industry.


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