Ford Announces Retirements, New Engineering Director Positions

Two senior executives from Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn have elected to retire. They will be succeeded by longtime colleagues, while assignments for two product development and engineering leaders are evolving with the company’s focus on connectivity and electrification.
Mark Ovenden, Gary Johnson
Mark Ovenden, left, is retiring and will be replaced by Dianne Craig. Gary Johnson, right, is also retiring and will be replaced by John Savona. // Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Two senior executives from Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn have elected to retire. They will be succeeded by longtime colleagues, while assignments for two product development and engineering leaders are evolving with the company’s focus on connectivity and electrification.

Mark Ovenden, president of Ford’s International Markets Group (IMG), will retire effective Feb. 1 and be succeeded by Dianne Craig, who is CEO of FordDirect, a digital marketing joint venture with Ford and Lincoln dealers.

Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, also will retire on Feb. 1. He will be succeeded by John Savona, who will drive worldwide manufacturing strategy, best practices, and talent development while continuing to lead North America manufacturing.

Starting Jan. 1, Dave Filipe will become vice president of vehicle hardware modules, and Chuck Gray will become vice president of vehicle embedded software and controls.

Craig will become a corporate officer and report to Lyle Watters, president of South America and IMG. Savona remains a corporate officer and will report to Lisa Drake, COO of North America. Filipe and Gray continue as officers of the company and report to Hau Thai-Tang, chief production platform and operations officer.

Ovenden worked with Ford for 35 years around the world, most recently helping establish and lead IMG. He helped improve the company’s business in 100 markets, including Australia, India, the Middle East, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. He was previously president, Middle East and Africa; vice president, marketing, sales and service, Asia Pacific; led transformation of Ford’s joint-venture company in Russia; and was chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain.

“Mark has been on the leading edge of expanding the worldwide reach and stature of the Blue Oval,” says Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Americas and IMG. “He has sharp understanding of and been a strong and constant advocate for customers in places that were newer for Ford.”

As the head of FordDirect for the past two years, Craig helped transform the venture with digital go-to-market solutions for Ford and Lincoln dealers. She has been with Ford since 1986 and was director, U.S. Sales, and president and CEO of Ford of Canada. She has a Master of Business Administration from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Johnson started at Ford in 1986 as a paint-shop supervisor at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant and will retire as head of operations for every Ford assembly, stamping, and powertrain plant. Earlier, he led manufacturing in both Asia Pacific and North America and oversaw construction of 12 plants. This year, Johnson was pivotal to Ford’s Project Apollo, which produced personal protective and health care equipment and directed safe, effective resumption of global manufacturing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gary personifies our industrial strength and the concept of Built Ford Proud,” Galhotra says. “He’s been central to expanding and modernizing our operations to produce high-quality vehicles, our exceptional partnership with the UAW and, this past year, leading our people and production through the coronavirus pandemic.”

Savona joined Ford in 1989 as a security guard at the Wayne Assembly Plant after serving three years in the U.S. Army. He subsequently took on a variety of supervisory and management roles with increasing responsibility, including in the manufacturing and quality organizations. Savona has led Ford’s North America manufacturing since 2018.

New assignments for Gray and Filipe are part of restructuring within Ford’s industrial platform. They will support the company’s push to raise overall product quality and employ a new approach that will scale the battery-electric vehicle platforms and deliver its first fully networked vehicles and services.

Filipe, vice president of powertrain engineering for the last three years, will now lead hardware development and systems integration of exterior, interior, underbody, internal-combustion powertrain, and electrified modules. Prior to the powertrain assignment, he was vehicle line director for North America trucks; director of global engine engineering; and director, transmission and driveline engineering. Filipe has been with Ford since 1992.

Gray will be responsible for transforming the in-vehicle service experience for Ford customers through embedded software, including those that enable over-the-air updates, vehicle controls, embedded connectivity technology, advanced driver-assist technologies and systems, and vehicle cybersecurity. Since 2019, he has been vice president, vehicle components and systems. Earlier, Gray, who joined Ford in 1991, was director of Ford’s core electrical team and also led transmission and driveline engineering.

“With this new structure, our engineering teams will be even more agile to capitalize on emerging trends and opportunities and the speed of innovation,” Thai-Tang says. “Instead of focusing on components, we will use a systems view of technology and its integration at scale to unlock innovation for customers and Ford.”