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Mulally Departing HR Chief Laymon Leaving Ford ‘in Great Shape’

Felicia Fields is tapped to lead Ford’s global human resources and corporate services functions. Ford says it will not replace Fields’ current position as vice president for human resources.

September 16, 2011
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Ford Motor Co. group vice president Joe Laymon has resigned and will be replaced as head of human resources by Felicia Fields, the automaker said Tuesday, March 25.

Laymon, 55, has been with the company since 2000. Laymon was named vice president of human resources and medical services at Chevron Corp., effective immediately.

Marty Mulloy will continue to lead labor relations at Ford, but now will have global responsibilities. He’ll report to manufacturing chief Joe Hinrichs. Fields will report to CEO Alan Mulally.

The move comes one day after Automotive News published a story in which Laymon named six possible successors to Mulally.

Mulally told Automotive News that Laymon notified Ford of his decision to leave Friday, March 21. It was Laymon’s decision to leave, Mulally said.

“He’s leaving us in great shape,” Mulally said.

Mulally said he did not know ahead of time last week that Laymon would discuss Ford’s candidates for CEO. Mulally said he wasn’t bothered by it because “everybody knows the leadership team.” But Mulally said he was a little surprised that Laymon named possible CEO successors.

“I think what he was trying to do was stress the process we use,” Mulally said.

Laymon told Automotive News he had been in discussions with Chevron since late 2007. He said he was not asked to leave Ford, and he noted that offers like the Chevron job don’t come up “overnight.”

He also said he was “at peace and very comfortable” working for Mulally and executive chairman Bill Ford.

“It would have taken another iconic global opportunity” to persuade him to leave Ford, Laymon said. “And I was approached late last year about this opportunity.”

Laymon said his interview last week with Automotive News did not play into his departure.

“I know there’s a lot of controversy about my interview,” he said. “I stand by it.”

Laymon said he rejects the notion that speaking publicly about future CEO candidates will promote infighting and make Mulally a lame duck. An article published on Fortune magazine’s Web site today discussed those possibilities.

Said Laymon: “The suggestion that the public acknowledgment of those candidates would result in back-stabbing, I would venture to say they’d result in just the opposite.”

The elevation of Fields, 42, to head of human resources is part of a succession plan that Laymon created. “She’s a consummate HR professional. She has the respect of the team companywide,” Mulally said.

Filed by Amy Wilson and Richard Truett of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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