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Mark Ovenden, Gary Johnson retiring from Ford; Craig, Savona, Gray, Filipe to take on new assignments

Two accomplished senior Ford executives have announced their plans to retire from the company and will be succeeded by longtime colleagues, while assignments for two Product Development and Engineering leaders are evolving with the company’s intense focus on connectivity and electrification

Two accomplished senior Ford executives have announced their plans to retire from the company and will be succeeded by longtime colleagues, while assignments for two Product Development and Engineering leaders are evolving with the company’s intense focus on connectivity and electrification.

The changes will assure consistency and capability as Ford works through next-level changes in its plan to transform, modernize, disrupt and grow its automotive business. Specifically:

  • Mark Ovenden, president of Ford’s International Markets Group, has elected to retire effective Feb. 1 and will be followed in that role by Dianne Craig, who presently is CEO of FordDirect, a digital marketing joint venture with Ford and Lincoln dealers.
  • Gary Johnson, the company’s chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, will also end his Ford career on Feb. 1. He will be succeeded by John Savona, who will drive worldwide manufacturing strategy, best practices and talent development, while continuing to lead North America manufacturing, as he does today.
  • Starting Jan. 1, Dave Filipe will become vice president, Vehicle Hardware Modules, and Chuck Gray vice president, Vehicle Embedded Software and Controls. Both represent shifting responsibilities within the new Ford operating model that CEO Jim Farley introduced in October.

Craig will become a corporate officer and report to Lyle Watters, president, South America and IMG. Savona remains a corporate officer and will report to Lisa Drake, chief operating officer, North America. Filipe and Gray continue as officers of the company and reporting to Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform and operations officer.

Ovenden, Craig

Ovenden, 56, will end an outstanding 35 years with Ford around the world. Most recently, he helped establish and has led IMG, improving the company’s business – including demand for its leading Ranger pickup – in nearly 100 diverse markets, including Australia, India, the Middle East, South Africa and Southeast Asia. Among previous assignments, Ovenden was president, Middle East and Africa; vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Asia Pacific; led transformation of Ford’s joint-venture company in Russia; and was chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain.

“Mark has been on the leading edge of expanding the worldwide reach and stature of the Blue Oval,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, Ford Americas and IMG. “He has sharp understanding of and been a strong and constant advocate for customers in places that were newer for Ford.”

As the head of FordDirect for the past two years, Craig, 56, helped transform the JV with best-in-class, digital go-to-market solutions for Ford and Lincoln dealers. She has a strong record of driving business results, customer satisfaction and dealer relations. Craig, who has been with Ford since 1986, was also director, U.S. Sales, and president and CEO of Ford of Canada. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Johnson, Savona

Johnson, 56, who started with Ford in 1986 as a paint-shop supervisor at the Flat Rock (Mich.) Assembly Plant, will retire as head of operations for every Ford assembly, stamping and powertrain plant. Earlier, he led manufacturing in both Asia Pacific and North America and oversaw construction of 12 plants. This year, Johnson was pivotal to Ford’s “Project Apollo,” which produced personal protective and health-care equipment, and directed safe, effective resumption of global manufacturing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The latter followed a Ford-developed playbook that was shared with and adopted by other companies.

“Gary personifies our industrial strength and the concept of ‘Built Ford Proud,’” said Galhotra.  “He’s been central to expanding and modernizing our operations to produce high-quality vehicles, our exceptional partnership with the UAW, and this past year leading our people and production through the coronavirus pandemic.”

Savona, 52, joined Ford Motor Company in 1989 as a security guard at the Wayne (Mich.) Assembly Plant after serving three years in the U.S. Army. He subsequently took on a variety of supervisory and management roles with increasing responsibility, including in the manufacturing and quality organizations. Savona, who has led Ford’s North America manufacturing since 2018, is the executive champion for the Ford Veteran’s Network Group.

Filipe, Gray

New assignments for Gray and Filipe, both company veterans, are part of restructuring within Ford’s Industrial Platform. They will support the company’s aggressive push to raise overall product quality and employ a new approach that will scale the innovate battery-electric vehicle platforms and deliver its first fully networked vehicles and services.

Filipe, 53, for the past three years vice president, Powertrain Engineering, will now lead hardware development and systems integration of exterior, interior, underbody, internal-combustion powertrain and electrified modules. Prior to the powertrain assignment, he was vehicle line director for North America trucks; director of Global, Engine Engineering; and director, Transmission and Driveline Engineering. Filipe has been with Ford since 1992.

Gray, 56, will be responsible for transforming the in-vehicle service experience for Ford customers through embedded software, including those that enable over-the-air updates, vehicle controls, embedded connectivity technology, advanced driver-assist technologies and systems, and vehicle cybersecurity. Since 2019, he has been vice president, Vehicle Components and Systems. Earlier, Gray, who joined Ford in 1991, was director of Ford’s Core Electrical team and also led Transmission and Driveline engineering.

“With this new structure, our engineering teams will be even more agile, to capitalize on emerging trends and opportunities and the speed of innovation,” Thai-Tang said. “Instead of focusing on components, we will use a systems view of technology and its integration at scale to unlock innovation for customers and Ford.”


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