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Alan Mulally, SM ’82

Driving Ford’s renaissance

No wonder Alan Mulally is being credited with turning around the Ford Motor Company. Since he became president and CEO in September 2006, he’s shaped a strategy that raised $23.5 billion in equity just before the credit markets collapsed. That money allowed Mulally to create what he calls “a viable, exciting, and profitable Ford”–while turning down federal bailout funds. The revitalized company returned to profitability during the third quarter of 2009.

Time, Barron’s, Aviation Week, and BusinessWeek have all lauded Mulally’s leadership, not only at Ford but also at his previous company, Boeing. He has been called on to advise NASA and the U.S. Air Force and served as president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Yet he points to his family first when considering his greatest achievements. “I’m very proud and thrilled to be married to Nicki for 40 years and to be the father of five wonderful kids,” he says.

His 37 years at Boeing culminated in posts as president and then CEO of the commercial airplanes business unit. He also served as president of Boeing Information, Space, and Defense Systems and as senior vice president of Boeing. “I had the opportunity to influence every Boeing airplane,” he says. “By getting people together around the world, Boeing contributes to developing a peaceful world. Now I have a chance to expand on Henry Ford’s vision to open up the highways to all mankind.”

Mulally earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Kansas in 1968 and ‘69. He attended MIT as a Sloan fellow, moving his family to Needham, MA, while he earned a management degree. “MIT gave me fantastic experiences culturally and professionally,” he says. “I met business leaders from around the world at MIT. The Institute is so committed to technical and business excellence, and it also offers this wide window to the world.”

Today Mulally is increasing Ford’s emphasis on producing small and medium-sized vehicles instead of SUVs and trucks. “We’re democratizing technology, bringing fuel efficiency to everyone,” he says. The company is growing quickly in China and adding dealerships across the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe.

Mulally lives just three miles from his office in Dearborn, MI. He says his favorite activities include “reading, hanging out with my family, and visiting Ford dealerships.”