The CEO of Jaguar and Land Rover, Geoff Polites, has passed away at the age of 60 after battling serious illness for the past two years. Polites is credited with leading the team that returned the Jaguar and Land Rover brands back to profitability and his passing comes as both carmakers are transferred to new owner Tata.

Polites had worked in the auto industry for almost 40 years and his previous positions included the top job at Ford in his home country of Australia as well as a brief stint as a car dealer.

“Geoff’s untimely passing robs his family and friends of a man who was a real inspiration to us all,” said Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally. “His drive and determination, combined with his clear sense of vision for the business, played a huge role in turning round the business at Jaguar and Land Rover and returning it to profitability.

David Smith, Jaguar and Land Rover’s current chief financial officer, will take over as the acting CEO until a successor is appointed.