Kiersten Robinson Selected for Ford Blue Operating Position; Jennifer Waldo, Christopher Smith Join as New Ford Leaders
Ford is further strengthening its leadership team – hiring two highly regarded executives and giving a significant global operating role to an accomplished longtime senior colleague – as it continues to execute the customer focused Ford+ plan for growth and value creation.
Kiersten Robinson, Ford’s senior Human Resources executive for the past four-plus years and a 27-year company veteran, is shifting into a key operating role as general manager of Ford’s popular and profitable family vehicles within Ford Blue. She will also serve as president of Ford’s operations in Mexico and Canada.
Robinson will be succeeded as chief people and employee experiences officer by Jennifer Waldo, an accomplished leader with deep technology experience at Apple and General Electric, who will start with Ford in mid-May. And Christopher Smith, who initiated the policy and government affairs capability at liquefied natural gas producer Cheniere Energy and served for seven years as an official in the U.S. Department of Energy, is joining Ford on April 4 as chief government affairs officer.
Ford Model e, Ford Blue
Earlier this month, Ford President and CEO Jim Farley announced the formation of two distinct, but strategically interdependent, automotive business units to enhance customer experiences and expand revenue and profitability:
- Ford Blue, which will selectively build out the company’s iconic portfolio of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines; reduce costs, simplify operations and improve quality; and supply engineering and high-volume production expertise to all of Ford, and
- Ford Model e, which will innovate and deliver breakthrough electric vehicles at scale, as well as revolutionary software and connected vehicle technologies.
In her new position, Robinson will report to Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue.
“Kiersten is a transformational leader who has been instrumental in supporting Ford’s business and global team for nearly three decades through innovative people, talent, employee safety and workplace experience solutions,” Farley said. “Now she’s taking on a critical global operating role within Ford Blue as president of Mexico and Canada, as well as leading our Family Vehicles product line that includes the popular Ford Explorer, Expedition and Everest.”
Robinson joined the company in 1995 as a labor relations representative in Australia, her home country. A series of Ford HR leadership assignments in Asia Pacific and Europe preceded a move to the company’s headquarters in Dearborn in 2002.
She was made head of Human Resources for Asia Pacific and Africa in 2010, before being appointed HR lead for the Americas 2016, with responsibility for global markets added in early 2017. Robinson was named chief human resources officer in 2018, and to her present role in 2020.
Waldo, who will report to Farley, has been leading change in organizations for more than 20 years, the past 10 in California’s Silicon Valley. At Apple, she led the team supporting all nonretail people-related functions, including software, hardware, services, design and marketing, as well as the global mobility and talent development teams.
“Jen has incredible experience and a track record of helping companies across different industries build talent and culture to support innovation and growth,” Farley said. “She will be an invaluable addition as we build a diverse, high-performance team to deliver the Ford+ plan.”
Prior to Apple, Waldo spent a combined 17 years with two GE business units. At GE Digital, which delivers software and industrial Internet of Things services to industrial companies, she led the hiring and building of software talent capabilities across GE’s industrial businesses. Earlier, Waldo was with GE Aviation, starting in several plant HR roles and eventually managing global HR for sales and the avionics business. She later led organization and talent development, including inclusion and diversity, recruiting, and executive development, across the enterprise.
Joining Ford will be a homecoming for Waldo, a Michigan native. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Theory from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Human Resources and Labor Relations, also from MSU.
Smith will add to Ford’s policy capabilities as the company carries out priorities in the U.S. and around the globe – in rapidly evolving areas such as connectivity, electric vehicles and digital services, and in ways that benefit customers, society and the environment. He succeeds Mitch Bainwol, who retired from Ford at the end of 2021, and will report to Steven Croley, Ford’s chief policy officer and general counsel.
“Chris has devoted his career to shaping progressive energy policy and driving toward a more sustainable future,” Croley said. “He brings tremendous passion and expertise to Ford as we shape the future of transportation.”
See related article: Dalrada Energy Services Appoints William Probst as VP of Energy Management
For the past four-plus years, Smith was senior vice president, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, at Cheniere Energy, the world’s second-largest liquefied natural gas operator. While there, Smith led the incorporation of climate principles into Cheniere’s business model and influenced a modernization of federal regulations.
During the Obama Administration, Smith served as an official at the Department of Energy, ultimately as assistant secretary for fossil energy. In that role, he oversaw policy, international engagement, and research and development programs. Earlier in his career, Smith held managerial and analytical positions at Chevron, focusing primarily on upstream business development and LNG trading, and analytical roles at Citibank and JPMorgan in New York City and London.
Smith, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, began his career as an engineer officer in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Korea. He also has a master’s in Business Administration from the University of Cambridge in England and a degree in applied mathematics from American Public University.
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