It was announced in August 2020 that Jim Farley would succeed Jim Hackett as the CEO of the Ford Motor Company. Farley stepped into this role with an ambitious, customer-focused Ford+ plan. He wanted to structure Ford as a leader in electric and connected vehicle production, improve the company’s stock price, and emerge from the coronavirus pandemic as strong as ever. In his first year, Farley met his goals, and now leads one of the most dynamic, forward-thinking automakers in the world.
Jim Farley’s parents met in Grosse Pointe, MI and always considered the Detroit area their family’s home. His grandfather was employee #389 at Ford’s Highland Park plant, giving Farley deep roots in the company. Farley himself was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina while his father, a banker, was working there. His family moved to Connecticut shortly after he was born, but still traveled to northern Michigan each summer.
Farley earned degrees in economics and computer science at Georgetown University and an MBA at UCLA in 1990. He was hired by Toyota Motor Company in 1990 to launch their new luxury brand, Lexus. In 2007, Farley left Toyota after many successful years to work for the Ford Motor Company as the group vice president of Global Marketing.
One of Farley’s earliest successes at Ford came with the technology-heavy Ford Fiesta in 2009. Instead of unveiling a new car model with an enormous television campaign, Farley decided to tap into a relatively new market: YouTube influencers and their devoted following. Ford gave 100 new Fiestas to young, popular YouTube stars to drive around for a few months and review for their followers. Six and a half million hits later, the Ford Fiesta’s marketing campaign changed the game.
Farley is a car guy in every sense, not just because he has been an auto executive for his whole career. Farley builds cars, he races cars, and most importantly, he knows what motivates people to buy cars. This knowledge, and his proven ability to make it work, paved the way for Farley to rise through the executive ranks at Ford until being named CEO and president in October of 2020 and taking on the additional role of president, Ford Model e in March 2022.
After Farley’s first year as CEO, market shares of Ford had risen roughly 100 percent. Over his term as the head of Ford, Farley has already taken dramatic steps into the electric vehicle market, launching the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, the F-150 Lightning, and the E-Transit.
In March 2022, Farley divided company operations into three separate businesses. Alongside the existing commercial distribution arm, Ford Pro, Ford Blue will focus on combustion engine vehicles, and Ford Model e will develop battery-powered electric and connected vehicles. Farley serves as president of Ford Model e in addition to his role as CEO.
Jim Farley’s bold and calculated decision making has made him one of the most exciting names in the auto industry. His ambition and drive have set the Ford Motor Company up for a big future.