Ford Australia and New Zealand boss Robert “Bob” Graziano has announced that he will retire on April 1, closing out a 32-year career with the American carmaker.
Graziano’s retirement also brings an end to a nearly five-year innings as the President and CEO of Ford Australia.
Perhaps the most challenging role of his career, Graziano guided the company through tough times here for the brand's local manufacturing operations and for the Australian automotive industry, culminating in the decision by Ford to end its Australian manufacturing programme.
“The progress we have made on transforming the business in the last two years has been dramatic - completely rethinking the experience our dealers deliver to our customers and dramatically improving sales and service satisfaction, securing robust agreements that will allow our manufacturing employees to move on from Ford with dignity and hope, announcing our new office near central Melbourne, and ensuring we can continue to serve our customers with 20 new vehicles by 2020,” Graziano said today.
“I am confident that this transformation will be successful and that we have the right team in place to accelerate that transformation.”
Pictured above: Graziano with V8 racing legend Allan Moffat and FPV GT-F 001 owner Ian Terriaca.
Graziano, 55, joined Ford in 1982 as a sales analyst in the US, building experience in marketing and finance roles along the way.
His first international role came with a move to Ford Brazil in 1997, where he served as general marketing manager before being promoted to a broader marketing role with Ford South America.
Returning to the US operation in 2000, Graziano shipped out again in 2004 when he was made President and CEO of Ford South Africa.
Roles in China followed, along with stints as an Executive Vice President and Director at Mazda - a period that saw Ford’s share in Mazda reduced to three percent.
From there, Graziano came to what would be his final role with the company, succeeding Marin Burela at the head of Ford Australia in late 2010.
“Bob has been a terrific leader for Ford in so many roles around the world. Nowhere has this been more true than in his current role with Ford in Australia and New Zealand,” Dave Schoch, president of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations, said.
“With Bob at the helm, we have set the business on a new path that will result in a thriving product development center and a world-class marketing and sales organization serving the wants and needs of our customers in Australia for years to come.”
Graziano will be succeeded in Australia by Graeme Whickman, who has been head of Marketing, Sales & Service for Ford Australia since coming to the local outfit from Ford Canada in 2013.
Whickman, 46, has been with Ford for 18 years, working in marketing and sales roles across the company’s North and South American, European and Asia Pacific operations.
Whickman is credited with playing a key role in Ford Australia’s current ongoing transformation into a full-import brand, along with the company’s push to revamp the buyer experience at Ford dealerships.