Vice President Karen Francis marks the end of the dot-com era at Ford Motor Co
The departure of Vice President Karen Francis marks the end of the dot-com era at Ford Motor Co.
Francis, the high-profile president of Ford's ConsumerConnect unit covering almost all e-business, will leave Ford Aug. 1. Many of the electronic business initiatives begun under former CEO Jacques Nasser are being officially folded into Ford's traditional marketing operations.
Francis says she proposed the change to Chairman Bill Ford in May, and that it will save the company $10 million to $20 million annually in overhead. She says much of her group's headcount of 350 will shift over to other operations.
"When I got to the company, much of ConsumerConnect was caught up in the IPO fever," says Francis, who joined Ford in April 2001. When tech stocks were soaring, Nasser had intended to take many of the ventures public.
Francis says she spent her time trying to make the e-ventures work for Ford's core business. Ford follows General Motors in shifting the separate e-unit back into traditional departments.
Francis, 39, is one of seven female vice presidents at Ford. A Procter & Gamble Co. marketer, she burst onto the automotive scene in March 1996 when Ron Zarrella brought package-goods experts to General Motors. She quickly rose to general marketing manager of the Oldsmobile Division.
A short stint at technology holding company Internet Capital Group led her to the ConsumerConnect job.
Francis and a Ford spokesman said she was offered other jobs. She says the jobs didn't fit what she wants to do. She will serve as a con******t for the integration of her operations into marketing.
Francis's responsibilities fit into four boxes:
* Worldwide Direct Marketing covers sales in markets where Ford doesn't have manufacturing.
* Ventures includes Ford's joint ventures such as Covisint, Microsoft CarPoint, the dealer Web system FordDirect.com, and the recently disbanded Wingcast telematics unit. Ventures and Worldwide Direct Marketing will now report to Kathleen Ligocki, vice president of North America marketing.
* Dealer Services includes training, the Fordstar satellite communications system, and the dealer-to-dealer vehicle locator.
* Customer Relations Management includes Ford.com as well as Ford's CRM strategy group. Dealer Services and CRM will report to Jan Valentic, vice president of global marketing.