Ford appoints new Europe COO, makes treasurer Smart Mobility CFO

Professional Women in Automotive industry standing in from on Engine

Barb Samardzich, one of Ford’s highest-ranking female executives, retires after 26 years

July 18, 2016 @ 9:55 am

Nick Bunkley

Barb Samardzich helped guide Ford of Europe to its first annual profit since 2011 last year.

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. today appointed a new Europe COO and expanded its corporate treasurer’s role to include financial oversight of its recently created Smart Mobility subsidiary.

Barb Samardzich, 57, is retiring Oct. 1 as vice president and COO of Ford of Europe, the automaker said. Her successor will be Steven Armstrong, the president of Ford’s South America operations.

Samardzich, one of Ford’s highest-ranking female executives, has been with the automaker for more than 26 years, serving as its deputy leader in Europe since November 2013. She helped guide Ford of Europe to its first annual profit since 2011 last year, and the region has improved so much that it earned more in the first quarter of this year than in all of 2015.

Under Ford of Europe President Jim Farley, Samardzich’s responsibilities have included manufacturing, quality, product development and safety. Before moving to Europe in 2011, she was vice president of global product programs and head of powertrain engineering. She came to Ford in 1990 from the nuclear fuels division of Westinghouse Electric.

“Barb’s leadership and expertise have been critical to the transformation of our Ford of Europe business into a vibrant and profitable organization,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in a statement. “Over the course of her career, she was instrumental in developing our global powertrain lineup, along with guiding the design and engineering of many Ford vehicles including Mustang and F-Series Super Duty. We are grateful for her many contributions and strong leadership over the years.”

Armstrong, 52, will be replaced in South America by Lyle Watters, 51. Watters, currently Ford’s European CFO and vice president of finance and strategic planning, will have the task of helping the only Ford region that lost money in 2015 overcome economic turmoil in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. Ford has said it expects losses in South America to grow this year.

In the U.S., Neil Schloss, 57, will become CFO of Ford Smart Mobility, which is working on technology related to connected and autonomous vehicles and aimed at helping the automaker compete in the future automotive market.

Schloss, Ford’s treasurer since 2007, is the first appointment to the Smart Mobility management team since Fields announced the subsidiary creation in March. He will report to corporate CFO Bob Shanks as well as Smart Mobility Chairman Jim Hackett.