Ford CEO Alan Mulally, the man primarily credited with turning around the automaker’s fortunes by streamlining operations and implementing the ‘One Ford’ policy, may step down from the top job earlier than planned.  The 68-year-old exec is scheduled to resign at the end of 2014 but reports claim he may step down earlier to explore other roles.

The information was revealed to Reuters by two people familiar with the plans of the board of directors at the Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F]. The sources also revealed that Mulally was considering a new role outside the automotive industry, with suggestions including a post in the Obama administration as well as a possible replacement for outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Mulally originally came to Ford in 2006 from Boeing. At the time, Ford had posted a loss of $12.7 billion and was struggling to maintain control of several different brands include Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. His mastermind move was securing a $23 billion loan prior to the financial crisis of the last decade, helping it avoid bankruptcy and a federal bailout.  

While Mulally insists he is focused on his job at Ford, the automaker has prepared for his departure and has a succession plan in place. First in line to receive the top job is widely believed to be current COO Mark Fields.


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