DEARBORN - All it took was one idea and a plan. From day one, innovation has been the foundation and at the heart of the Ford Motor Company.
What started as Henry Ford’s vision to open the highways to all mankind, set in motion and spiraled into a company that not only builds great vehicles, but puts technology first.
So each day, the company’s thought leaders - Ford executives and employees - are hard at work developing these cutting-edge technologies that build on the company’s past and affect the future standing.
Each month, executives and thought leaders within the company speak to a group of Ford alumni who helped ingrain technology leadership as part of Ford’s DNA - the Ford Retired Engineering Executives (FREE) club.
This month, Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation, updated the group on how Ford is fostering the culture of innovation and thriving off of current technologies to enhance future products.
“Innovation is in the legacy that Henry Ford left us, and it is in that spirit that we are driving the company today,” said Mascarenas.
Why is innovation a big deal? It’s all about growing a brand. It’s about driving business results, working to increase shareholder value and employee satisfaction, while helping to make a company that is a desirable place to work, according to Mascarenas.
“If you think about some of the great brands in the world, like Google, Nike, Samsung and Apple, one of the things that they all have in common is that they are continuously reinventing themselves or their products, services or experiences that they offer. And it’s that innovation that differentiates them,” he said.
Another key step in staying ahead of the game is that the company continues to define the brand clearly by keeping a heavy focus on Ford, and what Ford stands for. This includes staying on track with the brand pillars; quality, green, safe and smart.
“Having that clarity and focus around the Ford brand has really helped guide our innovation in each of those four key pillars,” said Mascarenas. “Everything is linked and everything is aligned.”
During the presentation, he also gave the alumni a look ahead at what the company is doing to push further with innovation; and according to Mascarenas, this all starts with the customer.
“For us the customer experience is not about the performance, the power, the torque or number of processes in the car; it’s about the driving experience, the infotainment and many other aspects outside of the engineering specifications,” he said.
Omit the spirit of innovation from Ford, and the company wouldn’t be where it is today, and features like the active park assist, lane keeping aid or the industry-first inflatable rear safety belts would not exist.
“The ability for innovation really provides an environment that people want to work in, enjoy working in and an environment that is recognized externally,” said Mascarenas.
Each month a new guest speaker attends this event. Next meeting Hau Thai-Tang, group vice president, Global Purchasing, will be speaking to the group. Click here for more information on FREE and their initiatives.
More than 450 Ford alumni are members of FREE – making it one of the largest and most prestigious retiree organizations in the company. With more than 40 years as an active retiree group, FREE membership is limited to those with supervisory experience at an LL5 (SG11) or above.