DEARBORN — (WWJ) Ford is turning to a long time auto analyst and investment banker to help chart the company’s future.

The company is hiring 52 year old John Casesa to the new position of group vice president, Global Strategy. He will start March 1st and report directly to Ford CEO Mark Fields, who says Casesa will be the most senior leader and corporate officer overseeing global strategy and business development.

“Ford is a growth company in a dramatically growing global industry. It is more important than ever that we operate with a focus on delivering today’s business and an equal focus on anticipating and meeting the needs of customers five, 10 and 15 years down the road,” said Fields. “John knows business and the auto industry inside and out. His deep experience and relationships will help guide and shape our global strategies – particularly as we challenge today’s business model and push to innovate to make us even stronger tomorrow.”

A statement from Ford says Casesa will work with the company’s business unit and skill team leaders to “enhance existing business strategies and to identify and evaluate new opportunities leading to profitable growth.”

Casesa’s duties will include helping to steer the company’s investments in new products, technologies and business models supporting a focus on innovation and Ford Smart Mobility.

“With the new hire, the company gains a well-respected analyst with a breadth of experience and knowledge across the industry,” said IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley, in a report on the Casesa hire. “Fields has selected someone from the outside who will bring a fresh view to the plans and opportunities, and likely able to spot strengths and weaknesses in existing plans more dispassionately than the executives who created them. Casesa should be coming in with a realistic view of the company’s organizational and cultural challenges and opportunities.”

Mark Fields–who was Alan Mulally’s hand-picked replacement as CEO–has been in the top job at Ford for just over seven months. Brinley says this is another example of Fields putting his own stamp on the company.

“Mark Fields seems to be creating a strong mix of internal and external voices, building a team that can help him lead the company,” she said. “Most CEOs will see their strongest successes only with the right team behind them. The makeup of that team depends on the CEO, company and industry. Fields is well on his way to having built the team he needs for his (and Ford’s) success.”

It’s not unprecedented for companies to turn to top Wall Street analysts. Long time analyst Steve Girskey worked his way up to the vice-chairman role at General Motors.

Most recently, Casesa was senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners, where he led the firm’s automotive investment banking activities. Before that he spent 20 years at Merril Lynch and Schroders PLC, as an analyst. He has also worked as a product planning analyst at General Motors and a co-owner of auto dealerships in the northeast.

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