DETROIT — Bill Ford has frequently spoken of a desire to spark a cultural revolution within Ford Motor Co., and now he has a CEO with record of doing just that kind of thing.
Ford, the automaker's executive chairman, said Jim Hackett is "a proven transformational leader" and "a visionary thinker" who dramatically improved the culture at Steelcase Inc., a Michigan furniture company he ran from 1994 to 2014.
Hackett, 62, made Steelcase more innovative as the way its customers used their workspaces began changing rapidly, Ford said.
At Steelcase, founded nine years after Ford, Hackett overhauled the company's identity in the sort of way that the man he is replacing — Mark Fields — had been attempting to do.
"We still make furniture but we're in the human-insights business," Hackett said when Steelcase celebrated its centennial in 2012. "We know from experience that insights aren't things you can make up. They're not magic; they're really hard-won. They're hard to find. And we spend a ton of time and money mining for them."
Hackett is a former board member at the automaker who spent most of his career in the furniture business before Fields tapped him to steer Ford's investments in new forms of mobility.
Hackett's automotive experience is limited to the three years he spent on Ford's board of directors, beginning in 2013, and 14 months overseeing Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary Fields created to coordinate work in car sharing, ride hailing, autonomous driving and other emerging trends.