CHENNAI, India — The Ford India team has a well-earned reputation for being passionate about the Blue Oval. That passion was on display for all to see during a recent visit by Felicia J Fields, Group Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Services.
“The India team appears more welcoming, passionate and creative every time I visit here,” Fields said during a tour of the Chennai plant last week. During her busy two-day schedule, Fields reviewed various entities of Ford in India and met with team members, inspiring them with messages on Ford’s future growth plans.
Fields visited the Ford Global Business Services, comprising Ford Business Services Centre and Ford Technology Services India, where she reviewed various business functions and interacted with the leadership and employees.
Addressing the participants of ‘Compass’-- a career development program for Ford in India employees, she said Ford has made large investments in Asia Pacific, particularly India “because it is part of the larger One Ford plan and we believe you have what it takes to make this plan succeed. Part of the plan is also focused on people development and though it may take some time, we need to have the right talent, at the right place, at the right time.”
Bernard Swartout, Ford’s global lead for Compensation & Benefits, accompanied Fields during the visit to GBS. “It was a fantastic experience and I have come away with a much deeper understanding of both the business issues and C&B challenges in India. This experience will surely strengthen the global C&B team and improve our ability to provide services to the entire AP region,” he said.
Fields also advised employees to “identify professional and technical gaps and work hard to close them…learning should never stop at any stage of your career. In fact, I am still learning,” she told them.
Inaugurating the ‘My Story@Ford’ contest organized by the Chennai Toastmaster’s Club and Ford HR, Fields pointed out how, as a third generation Ford employee, she has deep respect for Ford and the values it is founded upon.
“I was indeed inspired by my father, but there were others as well who inspired me of the values of hard work, integrity and learning. Ford is a great learning organization and you will go places if you are willing to learn and put in some hard work.” She also spent time with members of the Genesis HR team that has helped roll out the new ‘One HR’ platform, and congratulated them on their sincere efforts.
The next morning, Fields – accompanied by Kiersten Robinson, VP, HR, Ford Asia Pacific – took a tour of the Chennai plant. Escorting them was Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, Ford India, who informed her of all the changes the plant has undergone recently and its attempt to fully implement the Global Ford Production System.
The visitors were told about Ford India’s unique Natural Work Groups that meet every week to bring about many manufacturing innovations and witnessed two of the teams — Body Framers and Powertrain — present their projects. Fields was impressed with the presentations. “I like the way you have understood the complexities, thought over it and found a cost-effective and appropriate way to enhance production. This is the sign of real ingenuity.”
The new Ford College Graduate (FCG) facility was teeming with excitement and surprise when Fields and Robinson called on the new graduates, accompanied by V Pandiyan, vice president, Human Resources, Ford India. They were taken through the FCG training module of Ford India, and experienced the diverse cultures and geographies the trainees come from when they translated a Henry Ford quote into 14 Indian tongues and witnessed the launch of the FCG logo created by the latest batch of trainees.
The new batch of FCGs had set up a contraption called the ‘Rube Goldberg Machine’ to reveal the logo which was launched by Fields as she switched on a remote. As a ball dropped, gears pulled, chains moved and the logo made its appearance, leaving the visitors impressed.
“Thanks for giving us the opportunity to witness your enthusiasm and creativity. I joined Ford as a FCG 27 years back and I must tell you that you are part of our One Ford plan. We are going to need you now and in the future, so believe in yourself and keep learning,” she said.
Fields and Robinson also spent a day in Delhi where they spoke at the Asia Pacific town hall with employees from 16 locations joining in.
Fields and Robinson encourage Ford College Graduates to learn during an interactive meet