The Ford Motor Company hired their new president on November 9th, 1960 in which he served barely a month! Before your mouth drops to the floor, it is important to note that their new president, Mr. Robert McNamara, was offered a better position that he couldn’t refuse; He was offered a position in the cabinet and was heading to Washington to work for President John F. Kennedy. There, he was given the role as secretary of defense and served under both President Kennedy as well as Johnson until he handed his resignation in 1968. Within the same year, he was offered a position at the World Bank as their president in which he served until 1981.
The end of World War II left the Ford Motor Company in tatters. Although Ford still had control, many knew he was getting more senile as his age was increasing. Furthermore, his public views on anti-union, being a pacifist as well as his anti-Semitic convictions caused many to shy away from buying his cars and wanting to avoid doing any business ventures with him. Another issue had to do with the 1929 stock market crash which caused the business to lose cash and by 1945, the company had a monthly loss averaging $9 million.
Making matters worse was how Chrysler and GM was the opposite as their businesses were booming. Henry Ford’s daughter-in-law and his wife had little choice but to approach him in September of 1945 presented the aging Ford with a harsh choice: name his grandson, 28-year-old Henry II, as his new successor or his mother would sell to the highest bidder her controlling stock of the business.
After much soul-searching, the aging Ford decided to hand the reins over to his grandson. Immediately, the grandson went to work by hiring what he called 10 “Whiz Kids” as soon as they were available from the Army Air Corps while focusing on those with experience in statistics and economics. These brain stars, including McNamara, had their background in education from places such as Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley and Stanford; they were able to not only streamline the company but to develop a way to make the company profitable again. One way this was accomplished was developing Ford cars with a sleek new look such as their ’49 coupe. This was a quick success due to the car’s integrated fenders, “spinner grille and slab sides.
McNamara’s legacy at Ford lasted for 14 years until he followed a new path that led to Washington and was fortunate to serve with President Kennedy and President Johnson. His service there included not only using his management skills in order to provide more efficiency to the Pentagon but was an important advisor during the Cuban Missile Crisis for President Kennedy. Also, he was often criticized and later explained in The Fog of War documentary in 2003 was an engineer under both Kennedy and Nixon of America’s Vietnam War Policy. On July 6th, 2009, McNamara died at the age of 93.