Personnel Articles

FORD has announced the appointment of Andrew Birkic as its new president and CEO of the Blue Oval brand in Australia and New Zealand, replacing Kay Hart who will relocate to the United Kingdom to take on a global role as enterprise product line manager for vans and buses.

The positions are effective immediately and see Mr Birkic step up from his role as chief product marketer for the Australian-developed, Thai-built Ranger ute and related Everest SUV.

He will report to Ford International Markets Group president Mark Ovenden, who in a statement released this week said Mr Birkic is “a highly experienced and engaging leader who brings a wealth of insights into the evolving needs of customers”.

“Andrew’s passion for bringing vehicles to market that truly serve our customers, his breadth of understanding of the local market and his global expertise will serve as a strong foundation for the continued progress of the business,” he said.

Mr Birkic is a Ford stalwart with 26 years of service under his belt in Australia and abroad, including stints in Detroit and Shanghai.

The company says that in his most recent role, which he took on in late 2018 and was based at the Asia-Pacific Product Development Centre in Broadmeadows, Mr Birkic had “global responsibility to develop pricing, series and positioning strategies for future vehicles”.

He previously spent three years at Ford’s global headquarters in Detroit working as global advanced consumer experience platforms manager, and prior to that spent two-and-a-half years in Shanghai as director of dealer development and consumer experience for Ford’s Asia-Pacific division.

Ford says that “working with dealers and Ford teams in each country to develop tools and strategies to better serve their customers was at the heart of both roles”.

Mr Birkic began his career at Ford Australia in 1994 and moved through various marketing, sales and customer service positions, rising to general sales manager in 2011.

“I know how passionate and accomplished the team is, having spent the past two years working with the Ranger and Everest development team to grow the brands across more than 180 markets,” he said.

“I look forward to working closely with our team and dealers to serve our customers.”

Ms Hart has more than 20 years’ experience with Ford and has overseen the Antipodean operations since mid-2018, when she replaced Graeme Whickman and relocated from Detroit where she was serving as global manager of battery electric vehicles in charge of distribution and digital experience.

In her new role based at Ford’s Dunton technical centre in England, Ms Hart will be responsible for global van and bus product lines and “carry forward” Ford’s commercial vehicle alliance with Volkswagen that will produce the next-generation Ranger/Amarok utes (based on Ranger), a compact delivery van (based on VW’s Caddy) and an all-new one-tonne van for both brands (developed by Ford).

She also becomes a board member of Ford Otosan, which is the auto-maker’s Turkish manufacturing division.

Mr Ovenden said: “Kay’s contribution to our business in Australia and New Zealand over the past two years has been outstanding, from delivering Ranger’s overall 4×4 leadership in Australia to further strengthening our focus on customer satisfaction.”

Mr Hart said: “I have every confidence that our Ford team – both employees and dealers – will continue to strive to create an even better experience for our customers and introduce great vehicles to this rapidly evolving market.

“I am proud of our commitment to Australia, and the work of our 2500-strong team who design and engineer world-class vehicles like the Ranger and Everest and look forward to following their progress in my new role,” she said.

By Terry Martin