As a White House Fellow (1978-1979), Mr. Padilla took a leave of absence from Ford Motor Company to serve in the Carter administration as the special assistant to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps. More recently, Mr. Padilla served on the U.S. Department of Commerce's Manufacturing Council.
Mr. Padilla is active in his community, supporting a number of educational, charitable and community organizations such as Focus: HOPE, the United Way, the University of Detroit Mercy and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
James J. Padilla joined Ford Motor Company in 1966, beginning his career as a quality control engineer. In 1976, he accepted the first series of management positions in product engineering and manufacturing. These included Manufacturing Operations Manager for the Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer, Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique, and Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable car lines. He also worked as Director, Small Car Segment, Car Product Development.
In the early 1990s, Jim held a number of positions at Jaguar Cars during its critical turnaround period. Under his leadership, Jaguar successfully launched the Jaguar XJ series, the Jaguar XK-8 and the world-class AJ26 engine and Jaguar S-Type.
Jim's success at Jaguar is just one of many during his 40-year career with Ford. During his two years (1996-1998) as president of Ford's South America Operations, Jim led the restructuring of the company's operations following a complicated dissolution of a joint venture with Volkswagen. Jim also played a key role in helping implement Chairman Bill Ford's plan to revitalize the historic Ford Rouge Complex in Dearborn. The result of the redevelopment is lean, flexible and sustainable manufacturing at one of the world's largest and oldest industrial icons.
Jim retired in June 2006 as Ford's President, COO and Board Leadership member where he was responsible for the global automotive business, overseeing marketing, manufacturing, engineering and other operations in more than 200 markets with 327,000 employees.
Born in Detroit, Jim holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Detroit. He was a White House Fellow and served as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 1978 and 1979.
Jim is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council. The 13-member council of manufacturing leaders from across U.S. industry works closely with the Commerce secretary in developing policies that will help U.S. manufacturers succeed in the global marketplace.
Jim has received numerous awards for his career and civic achievements. He received the Manufacturing Leadership Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1999 and was named a Fellow by the National Academy of Engineering in 2001. In 2004, he was honored by the government of Mexico with the Ohtli Award, the highest recognition that can be bestowed on a person of Mexican descent living outside the country.
Jim has a keen interest in corporate governance and board leadership development.