Photo of Jim Hackett courtesy of Ford.

Photo of Jim Hackett courtesy of Ford.

Ford has replaced CEO Mark Fields with Jim Hackett, who has led its mobility business unit for the past year. Ford views Hackett as a "transformational business leader" as it seeks to boost profit amid investor pressure.

Fields, who is retiring, has led the company since July 1, 2014, when he succeeded Alan Mulally. Fields, 56, joined the company in 1989.

Hackett, 62, will take on the roles of CEO and president following more than a year as executive chairman of Ford Smart Mobility. He began leading that business unit in March of 2016. He reports to executive chairman Bill Ford.

Earlier in his career, Hackett served as the CEO of Steelcase and interim athletic director of the University of Michigan.

"Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space," said Bill Ford. "He's a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business."

The move was seen by one analyst as a signal that Ford may need to move faster on initiatives to shift the company's focus to mobility and emerging technology.

"Ford exemplifies the challenge facing auto manufacturers; having great ambitions for smart mobility services, but still being heavily reliant on a profitable series of pickup trucks," said James Hodgson, an analyst with ABI Research. "However, if traditional manufacturers don’t properly take advantage of automotive technology trends — electrification, connectivity, automation — they'll soon be overtaken by newcomers who will."

In related news, Ford named three executive vice presidents who will report to Hackett, including Jim Farley as president of global markets; Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations; and Marcy Klevorn, president of mobility. The appointments are effective June 1.

Ford announced two other appointments, including Mark Truby as vice president of communications and Paul Bellow as global chief data and analytics officer.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet