Women in Shared Mobility: Interview With Marcy Klevorn, Ford Motor Company

marcy klevor ford motor company

This month on the ‘Women In Shared Mobility’ series, we interviewed Marcy Klevorn, the CHIEF TRANSFORMATION OFFICER at Ford Motor Company. In this role she is accelerating the company’s transformation by helping to refine the company’s corporate governance systems, facilitate faster adoption of agile teams across the business and ensure process improvements across the enterprise. She also continues to facilitate strategic partnerships with key technology partners as well as support the company’s diversity efforts.

Previously, Klevorn was EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIENT and PRESIDENT of Ford Mobility. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which was formed to accelerate the company’s plans to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services, as well as Global Data Insight and Analytics. She also chaired the board of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

Klevorn served as group VICE PRESIDENT, Information Technology and CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, from 2015 to 2017. In this role, she oversaw the complete transformation of the company’s IT tools and talent to put Ford in the forefront of technology companies globally.

Klevorn has spent her entire Ford career in IT, serving in a variety of positions in The Americas, Ford of Europe and Ford Credit. Klevorn holds seats on the boards of Northern Trust Corporation, Lawrence Technological University and Pivotal, a cloud-based software technology leader.

If you missed our WiSM interview last month, you can find it here. Want to have a look at all of Women in Shared Mobility interviews? View the entire category here.

Women in Shared Mobility: how FORD KEEPS UP-TO-DATE WITH MOBILITY TRENDS, effectS change WITHin the industry AND THE EXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS IN 2019

The Interviewee:

Marcy Klevorn, chief transformation officer, Ford Motor Company

Marcy Klevorn Ford Motor Company

The Interviewer:

Sandra Phillips, chief executive officer, movmi

ceo movmi

1. What will be the biggest developments in shared mobility over the next 12-18 months?


It’s a great question and the truthful answer is who knows? Because who knew 2 years ago that scooters would take over the world? A space we really see lighting up at Ford is CEO, Jim hacker’s ‘smart vehicles for a smart world.’ I think, at least in the automotive industry, we spend a lot of time thinking about the smart vehicle. It’s so important and it’s still evolving and there’s so much more we can do there. I think that what I see evolving more, is the smart world piece, because it’s harder and I think will evolve later, because you need the cooperation of so many to make something happen. There is a city, the council, the mayor, transportation officials, investment, there are citizens to consider and policy to consider. No city is the same, no State is the same and no country is the same.

I think the next frontier is really thinking about how we evolve that and what we can do together, to really bring it to life. Also leveraging it from an OEM perspective and once we do that how does it make everybody move more freely and how do it in this accessible for everybody?


One of the questions is about electrification. One part is around building the electric vehicles, and Ford has a very clear strategy of building more electric vehicles but then the other piece is exactly what you just talked about – the whole infrastructure, smart cities and then shared mobility.

2. What about EVs? are we finally we moving towards more on-demand services over ownership? and is shared mobility an entry point for people?


I think you raised a good point on ‘could shared mobility the first entry point?’ because it is a more expensive technology right now. Of course the price will come down over time like many technologies do. So the price will get better over time as the technology improves and as people get used to it. So I think it will come to life in a couple ways. Number one is shared mobility and that is probably going to coincide with cities. Making policy/regulations to reduce pressure on CO2 air quality issues, some electrification is in order whether it’s hybrid or a full EV. Of course you need the infrastructure so you can do that, but the infrastructure has to also be able to support it. You have to be able to have charging stations and if you have shared mobility, how do you implement that so that it relieves congestion and doesn’t introduce something that’s just additive.

I think those are some of the challenges and you do see a lot of people that are personally buying electric or hybrid vehicles. We are a big believer in both and having the power of choice, especially as the infrastructure slowly evolves. I think as cities slowly evolve and come to grips with the fact that they have to ease congestion and improve air quality, this will be one tools in the toolbox to do that.


Another tool in the toolbox, possibly, is the micromobility piece, that as far as I know, are all electrified already. I know that Ford has acquired Spin and as far as electric vehicles go, the infrastructure is a bit lagging behind, but now that you have a new lighter vehicle, that has been adopted quite quickly by consumers, is this a new tool in the toolbox of a city? How do you see micromobility developing?


It certainly is a tool in the toolbox of the city if it’s done properly and that’s one of the reasons we acquired Spin, because they do it properly, aligned with Ford’s values. Which is going to the cities in partnership and not just dumping scooters randomly – because if you do that, it doesn’t really help with congestion, it doesn’t really help giving the streets back to the people and it doesn’t really help to create a more pleasant environment.

We are big believers in going to the cities in partnership and what Spin does then, is talk about safety. We actually have some educational tools that we can offer a city and they work through lessons from it with the permission of the city. It’s all about becoming part of the fabric of the city and not just a bolt on. You have to use the tool properly like any tool, right? Effectively.

I spent a lot of my time with my son and daughter in New York City and mobility is a challenge there. The average ride is around 8 miles per hour – it’s crazy. Sometimes it takes longer from the airport to my hotel than the flight itself. So were scooters can come into play, whether it’s in New York City or other places, is that it is a last mile solution. So getting off on a vehicle or public transportation and then having the scooter take you that just that last leg.

We’re getting a lot of feedback on having it be the leg of the legacy short distance. Sometimes when you are sitting in traffic, you can see where you want to go but if you were on a scooter that problem goes away. I think it’s good for short distances in congested areas as well as the last mile solution.


Talking a little bit about last mile, another movement in it’s early stages is autonomous vehicles and micro shuttles, like the Navya and EasyMile pilots that have been popping up – in Switzerland, for example they are using this technology as a last mile loop to connect to train stations.



I think some of it depends on geography, so we have tried some things here in the U. S, which, if the environment was less dense, people had other choices and if there was more space available – they might make other choices. So, shared mobility is less popular in areas that are less dense, where parking is plentiful, where people enjoy driving and where it’s pretty friction free.

Shared mobility and last mile solutions are popular in places were parking is unavailable or very expensive and ownership is also very expensive. I think it is not a one size fits all solution, it really has to do with the characteristics of the city. What the policies and regulations are in place and then what the citizens are used to and what helps it to be friction free – which is totally different from one city to another.


You just talked about the differences regional setups. Europe is further ahead with MaaS development compared to North America. Do you think North America will catch up or is it just something, North America’s not ready for yet?



It’s less of an issue of being ready, it’s again when that tool fits the situation. I lived in Germany for a while and it’s a totally different situation. Public transportation is very practical and inexpensive and it’s actually very high quality. Parking in a city like that is a dreadful experience and it can be very expensive and it is not what I would call friction free. It tends to be some somewhat complicated.

I spent some time in U. K. as well and those old roads aren’t optimized for the vehicles of today. For me all those elements come into play when I think about Mobility as a Service and why it works in some areas and not others. Last, something forces people to change, whether if it gets really expensive, or inconvenient and it becomes super painful, if you enter Mobility as a Service in an area that doesn’t have some of these characteristics, I really don’t see it taking off, because there’s no reason for people to change from something that’s working for them.


What do you think would it would make it more attractive for North America? You mentioned that ‘friction’ is one and there is friction already in cities like New York and Vancouver – but if, let’s say, the friction doesn’t increase.

6. what are other ways of making maas attractive to north america?


Number one, if the cities really take an organized and orchestrated approach to how they want to run the city. Some cities are starting to do that. Europe is more progressive here as you know. I think that’s one thing that could happen. We talk a lot about giving the streets back to the people and making it a place that is maybe a little more green, safer to walk, where you can shop and buy a cup of coffee. If you think about some of our urban settings right now, that’s really not the case.

In New York, there could 3 or 4 lanes but only 2 are moving. On the curbs, there are cars parked, they could be parked with no occupants, they could be dropping off person or picking up a person or they’re moving goods. The movement of goods causes one fifth of the world’s congestion and as people become more affluent and can afford these things and the services become more and more available.

As you said the friction is there, but then you have to introduce an approach that solves the friction in a way that is less than the friction already being experienced and that takes a lot of planning, it takes investment, it takes time and that’s not something that just happens easily – but those are the things I think would get the situation to change and move.


You have just given me the perfect segway into the whole innovation and transformation within a large organization. You just made a comment that those things don’t happen fast – we have physical infrastructure and there’s certain things just already in place. How do you transform something like? Part of your new role at Ford is passing on this knowledge around transformation and innovation, so what would you say is your number one piece of advice – if you work with a city that has an established organization (whether that’s public transit or automotive sector) of getting transformation and change in place?



Living in this big, complicated organization (as I have for nearly 36 years) we have the same problem here. The city is another complicated organization. You have two bookends of problem. You could have a really great vision but it remains a vision and it doesn’t ever go into the kind of execution mode that can make it gain traction. Or on the other bookend, you have a lot of execution going on, but maybe more chaotic and not rolling up and moving toward the realization of that vision.

The trick is to be able to do both. It’s to be able to have the vision, being able to know that you might have to tweak your vision over time as you learn. It’s hard to do sometimes as people get wedded to their vision and don’t realize that the world is changing and sometimes you have to be open minded. How do you break that down into meaningful pieces, to move along the application so that it still rolls up to that vision? Then keep checking in with that vision to make sure the world around you hasn’t changed so much that you need to tweak it.

One of the things we think about here is there’s the advancement of technology – so let’s say your vision is a 5 to 10 year vision. It will require advancements in technology and maturing in technology. Then you have to execute against that and provide meaningful outcomes. An outcome might be, ‘autonomous vehicles could ease congestion if done properly,’ but they’re not here today. We do have some autonomy in our vehicles, so how do we say ‘okay, this is the technology we have today, so we can make these changes, to at least start moving things along?’ Then we have an improved technology so you make meaningful progress against your vision, all the while checking the world around you to make sure you don’t have to tweak. You have to break it down into small pieces so that you’re making meaningful progress and your outcome focused.


I’m going to follow up with a question, where do you see like organizations like your own, that have been around for a really long time, having more advantages than a start up?



To answer this question, I have to share an inspiration that I’ve read in a book, ‘The Start-Up Playbook’ by David Gator. He talks about ‘what are your unfair advantages?’ So the big complicated, legacy company is still surviving and prospering – they’re doing something right. They have some unfair advantages and some moats they’ve built along the way. It’s about really taking a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and saying, ‘compared to this start-up, what advantages do I have?’ and then leveraging the heck out of those.

So maybe its scale, maybe it’s that you already spent time on a customer acquisition and you can pivot those customers towards new products and services, maybe it’s that you’ve got a really strong work force and you can pivot the workers towards a new thing you want to try, maybe you are well capitalized, maybe, like Ford, your brand means ‘trust’. You have these things that can add value, so then you just have to realise what value you are trying to create, how does that change based on the world around you changing and with a start up, can you pivot to realise that benefit?


One of the things that we see is that a lot of legacy organizations partnering up and tapping into that start-up mix. I know you are passing on lessons from what you have learned already but with the Ford collaborations,



This is such a great question. We acquired some companies such as Spin as well as others. I think there’s a tension between the acquiring a small start up – you don’t want a mother it to death. There’s a reason you acquired it – that it was successful, it had great promise and smart people – all the good things that they brought to the table. How do you have them leverage unfair advantages you know our dealer network our ability to scale the very smart people we have the city solutions team we have how do you get them to leverage that without squishing the very thing that you bought it for.

Picture you have your hand on the ‘mothering’ throttle, you might change that over time, as the start up scales, it might need a little more of something. I think that’s the tension is something you have to manage in it’s tricky and we’ve definitely gone on either side of that tension – it is part of our learning.


Maybe one last question. What do you think is the biggest pitfall for a legacy organization in this super fast, accelerated transportation landscape, when it’s hard to stay on top of what’s happening.



I think it’s realizing what got you here, might not get you there. It’s a hard thing. You have employees like myself, that have been around a long time and we’re used to how we got here and it is comfortable and we are here for everything we did. Change is uncomfortable and disruption is uncomfortable and how do you realize that and not lose the good parts? You need to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘what got me here isn’t going to get me there, what do I need to change?’ Whether it’s the design of the business, the design of the processes, the talent and people around us, being more open to things that we weren’t before. Sometimes you need to eat your own lunch a little bit.

I get a question a lot of the time about mobility saying, ‘If we do certain things, whether it’s MaaS or if legislation is passed to allow fewer vehicles in the city, why would we participate in something that might mean we sell less vehicles?Well the answer is because then you don’t participate at all. That’s the answer. What got you here might not get you there.



I think that is it does take a village and we believe the future is open not closed. We believe in partnering with cities, with technology partners, with the citizens, with all kinds of partners in a way that probably, at least from an OEM perspective, we’ve never done before and we welcome that. We understand that the future is different it will take a village.


What are your thoughts on the developments in shared mobility that occurred over 2018 and what is to be expected for next year’s developments? What about the future implementation of shared mobility within rural areas? If you would like to be interviewed or to nominate a woman working in Shared Mobility for our next series, get in touch with us here.

Struggling with profitability of your shared mobility service? Get in touch