| DETROIT, Sept 27
DETROIT, Sept 27 Ford Motor Co Chief
Executive Alan Mulally, a turnaround expert who is being
mentioned as a candidate for Microsoft Corp's top job,
remains "absolutely focused" on crafting the No. 2 U.S.
automaker's long-term strategy, a top executive said on Friday.
Mulally attends Ford's weekly executive meetings "pretty
regularly," Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields told reporters
at a fundraising event in Detroit for the charity United Way.
"Alan is still very involved," Fields said. "He's focused on
some of the strategic, long-term issues and also managing the
governance in the company."
Mulally, who was hired in 2006, successfully led the
automaker's turnaround and is credited with overhauling Ford's
corporate culture. In November 2012, Ford said Mulally intended
to stay at Ford through at least the end of 2014.
But, as sources told Reuters earlier this month, Mulally has
been exploring other high-profile roles to follow up his
successful tenure at Ford and the automaker's board is open to
his leaving sooner than planned.
Mulally has emerged as a top candidate to succeed Steve
Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft, Reuters and technology news website
AllThingsD have reported.
On Thursday, AllThingsD reported, citing sources, that
Mulally was now in the lead of the race to become Microsoft's
CEO. Ford has repeatedly said there is no change to the plan the
company outlined in November, a point Fields reiterated Friday.
Fields, a longtime Ford executive, is widely expected to
succeed Mulally as CEO. In December, he became the company's
COO, a role that involves running Ford's weekly business plan
review, or BPR, meetings, at which executives air issues.
"That BPR process is what has literally changed the culture
of the company and that's what's going to power us in the
future," Fields said.
"Collectively, we have helped change the culture. It's not
just relegated to one particular individual," he added.
Since his promotion, Ford's board has increasingly warmed to
Fields, who led the company's North American operations during
the financial crisis, people familiar with the matter have said.
But Fields said he was focused on serving as COO, a role he
described as "energizing." He added that he has not made any big
changes to the way those meetings are run since taking over.
"It's really about all of us looking to build on the things
over the years that have made our culture so strong," he said.