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How Ford Survived a Two-Month COVID Shutdown and Came Back With Detroit Swagger

Jim Farley of Ford

Meet Jim Farley: race car driver, grandson of Ford employee #389, and the new CEO of Ford.

His grandfather was employee number 389 at Ford Motor Company in 1916. And now, Jim Farley – vintage car racer and a Toyota executive before joining Ford in 2007 – is the new chief executive officer at Ford, leading a team of 200,000. His childhood nickname, “Jimmy CarCar,” continues to rev the engine behind his work and his persona. 

In this recorded and intimate interview, Jim chats with Monica Langley, executive vice president of global strategic affairs for Salesforce, to discuss Ford’s two-month-long pandemic closure, the “ruthless execution” of his leadership team, and the “Detroit swagger” of the new electric Mustang Mach E, as well as the F150, the first electric work vehicle built in a zero-emissions plant.

Following the conversation between Jim and Monica about 30 minutes in, you’ll see a demonstration of Customer 360 Platform and Tableau. Stick around for the music of Angela Aguilar. See the full video below.

Quotes from Jim Farley, CEO of Ford:

What does transformation look like for Ford?

We’re in the midst of a double transformation. We have to revise our automotive operations, which really funds our other transformation: we’re transforming ourselves. For 117 years, Ford has done great as a global American company. But we have to modernize our capabilities, and that includes tools like Salesforce. Automated vehicles that drive themselves is a disruption to personal ownership. Part of it is also going into the services business. Scrambling has become a new core competency.

How has building software into your vehicles helped you?

We’re installing electric architecture so that we know about everything going on in that vehicle, and it’s been a game changer. People don’t think of us this way, but we’re 50% of the commercial vehicles in the U.S. Our customers run their businesses off of Ford Super Dutys and transit vans. When you hear from our enterprise customers using software that can help a driver drive smarter and do dynamic routing, they’re more addicted to the data and the software than the four walls of the product. That’s when the lightbulb went off for me that we have to be a data-first company.

Will you continue racing vintage cars now that you are the CEO?

It’s my yoga. And I’m going to be a better CEO because of it. As a CEO, you have to have an outlet. And when I’m in that car, I’m concentrating 100%, and there’s nothing else to think about. And when I’m done, it’s such a mental break. Plus, I’m around my people and all of my friends who are racers and we get to give each other a hard time. When I’m at the track, I’m just Jimmy.


Watch the Customer 360 and Tableau demo

Thirty-three minutes in, Itai Asseo, senior director of Salesforce Ignite, says that just 31% of organizations see themselves as data driven. In this demonstration of Customer 360 and Tableau, Itai shows us how a fictitious auto company uses this software as a collaboration space.

Hear the music

After a brief interview, Angela Aguilar shares a recorded musical performance at minute 43.

Watch the whole conversation

Monica Langley of Salesforce & Jim Farley of Ford in conversation

This was the latest edition of Leading Through Change, our live video conversation series exploring how leaders use software to drive impactful change in industry. For more interviews:

Karen Solomon Senior Blog Editor

Karen Solomon is the senior editor for the Salesforce Blog, where she brings a wealth of experience as a writer, content strategist, and storyteller. In addition to writing four cookbooks and a travel book, she’s worked for Bank of America, Autodesk, Williams-Sonoma, Donnelly Marketing, and Under Armour. She’s also authored numerous feature stories for national press.

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