Thousands of New Tech Team Members Helping Transform Ford with More on the Way
By Julie Lodge-Jarrett, Chief Talent Officer, Ford Motor Company
A few years ago, we at Ford decided to disrupt our company in way not seen in our industry since Henry Ford put the world on wheels 116 years ago to compete for an exciting future.
To help do this, we brought in more than 3,000 team members with advanced computing, analytical and technical skills the past three years to help transform our company with our dedicated employees in our thriving traditional business. Today, this transformation is becoming much more visible as we launch the new Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV, advanced connectivity technologies and new mobility solutions.
We think our new talent behind these innovations is just as compelling, so I am pleased to introduce you to a few of them. And, we hope some of their cool work inspires talented job seekers as we hunt to fill hundreds more openings for software developers, data scientists, digital media specialists, app developers and more.
We offer the chance to work on coding projects that come to life, including fun and futuristic projects like our Ford Performance app to make spirited driving more fun, new mobility solutions such as e-scooters and advanced city transportation planning tools, or even the Mustang and Bronco. Very few companies can offer this wide variety of opportunities across the world.
We also are modernizing our workplaces to make this work more enjoyable, led by our Dearborn campus transformation, dogs-at-work pilots and even free coffee. All combined, we plan to improve our retention rate that already is better than the tech industry.
Women in tech
A key area of focus is hiring women in tech that are under-represented in both the auto and tech industries. While we are making progress and Ford is competitive with female employees, there are emerging pockets of even more diversity.
For example, there is a group of more than 25 women that that are helping launch the Mustang Mach-E’s new Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology feature that can steer for drivers who keep their eyes on the road. Tracie Conn has worked at Ford for nearly two years with the advanced engineering group that works on vehicle sensors and algorithms. Before that, she worked as an engineer for NASA for nearly five years.
“This team has the highest percentage of women of any team I’ve worked on,” said Conn. “For me, seeing other women in senior roles helps us envision ourselves in those spots one day. I hope we can serve as role models for even more young women.”
Ford also is encouraging girls to pursue careers in the field by expanding support of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs through programs such as FIRST Robotics, Girls Who Code and Ford Girl’s Fast Track Races. Annette Liyana managed the overall user experience for active drive assist — the first such feature for mainstream vehicles — and is heavily involved with STEAM. “It’s important to me to work for a company that helps encourage women, beginning in youth and mentorship, to go into technology and not lose their voice,” she said.
Alexandra Taylor is the application owner for the new hands-free assistance feature and has found role models inside the company. “Female mentorship has made a huge impact on my career at Ford and I believe this mentorship is critical for women as a whole to grow in engineering. Working on a new technology has been invigorating and a great opportunity to work with and inspire other young women in the field.
Importantly, diverse teams create more well-rounded ideas for customers. And while we are making progress, there is no doubt we have opportunity to create even more diversity.
As Ford adds more technology to vehicles, it is also racing to democratize artificial intelligence and machine learning across the company to further enhance new products, services and overall company fitness.
Nevi Kaja is a manager for building Ford’s AI platform and works with data, computer vision, machine learning and cognitive computing technologies. “It was a great opportunity for me to jump into building Ford’s artificial intelligence and machine learning platform,” Kaja said. “This platform will help make our vehicles smarter and enable us to connect with people more deeply because we can understand them much better through data science.”
Dominique Meroux works on data analytics for sustainability projects as we begin launching a wave of new electrified vehicles. He recently received a Clean Air Champion award from the Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition, affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy, for data-driven initiatives. For example, he helped secure grants for alternative fuel stations and cost-of-ownership analysis to inform fleet procurement of CNG/propane and electrified vehicles, many of which were Fords.
“That experience helped shape my education, and ultimately helped me end up at Ford,” Meroux said. “I’ve always seen this company as a leader in sustainability as we are democratizing the choice of powertrain technologies beyond conventional gas vehicles.”
Flurry of Connectivity
Ford also is launching unique over-the-air (OTA) updates, which are capable of quickly and wirelessly upgrading vehicles to stay current with technology and help customers reduce repair trips. Daniel Stahl helped engineer this advanced capability.
“This technology saves customers time by not needing to take vehicles in for updates, and we can deliver features to the vehicle they want and need in real time — even while they’re sleeping,” Stahl said.
The FordPass mobile app, which can remotely start/stop/unlock vehicles in addition to many other features, has opened several doors for team members at Ford, like David Harris — who plays a critical role in experimenting with ways to advance this technology.
“With the all-electric vehicles and many of the new Ford vehicles, customers have higher expectations for how they interact with it both on and off the road,” Harris said. “We have big plans to use a lot of what we have found in our research and experimentation — we want FordPass to be a major part of getting the customer where they want to go.”