Henry Ford III, who’s preparing for his first meeting next month as a member of Ford’s Board of Directors, has been part of the Investor Relations (IR) team for the past year. He recently spoke to the Ford Retired Engineering Executives (FREE) about the role the IR plays at Ford.
“We focus on ensuring the Ford story – our plan and our strategy – is top of mind within the financial community. The analysts do quite a bit of publishing and have influence in the capital markets. One of our jobs is to make sure they are always up to speed on what we’re doing,” he said. “We also ensure that the flow of information is timely, accurate and transparent for our actual investors. Our investors are very savvy, and we’re competing for share of mind.”
Henry said IR shares information with analysts and investors in two important ways: quarterly earnings calls and conferences typically hosted by large investment banks.
“The conferences are usually auto- or tech-focused and often feature our senior leaders,” he said. “For us, it’s a great way to reach a wider spectrum of people because although the conferences are limited to clients of the host banks, we are able to put our presentations on shareholder.ford.com, so anyone can tune in and listen.”
Henry said he is excited about the progress the company is making with connected vehicles.
“In the past we would build the vehicle, ship it off to dealers. Now, we’re pivoting to a new, always-on relationship with our customers that will give them exciting new technology and improved quality through over-the-air updates and provide us with consistent, recurring revenue through subscriptions and new features,” he explained.
In the question-and-answer portion of the FREE meeting, Henry was asked about his priorities as a new member of the Board.
“It’s a little hard to answer at this point. My first meeting will be in July,” he said. “I love Ford. It’s a huge part of my life. As a board member I have a responsibility to make sure the interests of all our stakeholders are held in the highest regard in the long term. We have a very clear plan with clear deliverables. We’re making investments in the right places, and I love the strategy of leading in areas of where we are strong.”
Henry also was asked what he’s most proud of looking back on his 15-year career at the company.
“For me, it’s about the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built. Ford’s given me a career where I’ve been able to interact and work with many different stakeholders, including Labor Relations, Purchasing, Marketing, Sales and Service, the Strategy team and Ford Performance,” he said. “Ford attracts people who are not just intelligent and capable but who are passionate and good. They want to do the right thing and have a genuine interest in making this world a better place and giving our customers what they need and want. I’m just so grateful to be part of the team.”