Kid Reporters

The Future of Ford

TIME For Kids sat down with the president and CEO of Ford Motor Company

April 21, 2011

More than 100 years ago, Henry Ford put the world on wheels. Today, the head of Ford Motor Company, Alan Mulally, aims to keep the automaker on the fast track. TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy spoke to Mulally in his office at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. They talked about the key to his business success, his first job (he wanted to be an astronaut!) and what cars will be like in the future.

TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy sits down with Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company.
COURTESY HEALY FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy sits down with Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company.

What are your responsibilities as the CEO and president of Ford?

ALAN MULALLY:

The most important thing is to ensure that everyone associated with Ford has a good business plan. We have a long-term plan to create products and services that people really want and value.

TFK:

How were you able to turn the company around?

MULALLY:

We all pulled together. We decided we were going to have a complete family of vehicles, including cars, utilities and trucks. We also decided that every vehicle we produce for the consumer would be best in class in the world in terms of quality, fuel efficiency, safety, design and value. We made a lot of progress because we did it by working together.

TFK:

What do you think is the key to your success?

MULALLY:

I always treasured talented people and what they can do working together. I think helping everyone come together on a compelling mission, and devising a plan to accomplish it. Any obstacle you find is an opportunity to get the big project done.

TFK:

What will cars be like in the future?

MULALLY:

In a couple of years, we'll be able to have regular conversations with our cars. You'll be able to say, I would like to go to Pizza Hut. Could you give me the shortest route and tell me if there's traffic?

TFK:

What is your favorite vehicle and why?

MULALLY:

Do you have brothers and sisters?

TFK:

I have two brothers.

Kid Reporter
Gabrielle Healy

MULALLY:

Well, it's like asking your parents which are their favorite kids. I love all of them.

TFK:

What was your first job? How did that guide you to your position today?

MULALLY:

My dream was to be an astronaut. President John F. Kennedy made it a goal that our country was going to go to the moon and back. I thought that was really exciting. While I was training, I found out I had a slight color blindness. That means I couldn't see certain colors, and that would prohibit me from doing a landing on the moon. I was in aeronautical engineering and studying airplane design at the time. One of my professors took me to Boeing, the company that makes all the commercial airplanes. I discovered my next love was to design and fly commercial airplanes. That led me to join Ford. Both Boeing and Ford are about safe and efficient transportation.

TFK:

You used to run Boeing. Now you run Ford. How is running Ford different from running Boeing? What have you learned from changing industries?

MULALLY:

That's a really neat question. There really are more similarities between Ford and Boeing than there are differences. Both Ford and Boeing are committed to safe and efficient transportation. Boeing makes airplanes that get people together, and we make cars that get people together. We're both dedicated to sustainability. For example 85 percent of a Ford vehicle is recyclable. Both these companies care about economic development. They both care about energy independence. They also care deeply about sustainability going forward. And Boeing was started by a man named Bill Boeing and Ford was started by a man named Henry Ford.

TFK:

How does Ford decide what kinds of vehicles kids my age will want?

MULALLY:

We decide by anticipating the needs of all the people who are buying vehicles. We decide which features are important to them. For example, today quality is very important. Safety is very important. Fuel efficiency is very important, and so is being connected to the Internet.

TFK:

What kinds of jobs will be available for my generation when I graduate from college in 12 to 15 years?

MULALLY:

I use Ford as an example. Almost every occupation you can think of, we need that kind of talent. We treasure engineers, artists, writers, manufacturing folks and lawyers. So everything you can imagine that you study in school, we need those skills at Ford. We need those skills to manufacture the vehicles, communicate what people want in them as well as tell people what's available.

TFK:

How can young people my age begin preparing now for future career success?

MULALLY:

Learn as much as you can about everything. Then follow your passion. If you're doing what you love, then you'll love what you're doing.


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