DOUG VANDAGENS: CONNECTING THE TEAMS BEHIND FORD’S CONNECTED CARS
Doug VanDagens, director, Ford Connected Service Solutions
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- VanDagens has helped Ford create successful relationships with Ford technology collaborators like Microsoft and SIRIUS® satellite radio, leading to some of Ford’s most popular connected vehicle technologies
- Currently the director of Ford Connected Service Solutions, VanDagens has worked in various Ford departments including business development, engineering, finance, marketing and powertrain
- VanDagens, a father of three, grew up in Michigan with a passion for cars, boats and motorcycles – and a family collection that consisted of all three
“Multifaceted” best describes Doug VanDagens, director of Ford Connected Service Solutions. Though he currently leads a 40-member team driving the success of Ford’s in-vehicle technologies portfolio, VanDagens has been involved with far-reaching aspects of the company’s operations, having worked in international operations, business development and joint ventures, finance, marketing, powertrain and vehicle engineering.
“I’ve helped Ford launch everything from recycling centers to customer call centers and complicated telematics joint ventures with companies such as Sprint and Qualcomm,” said VanDagens. “Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve always looked for that ‘white space’ opportunity to develop a new technology or take an existing product, create a new market for it and successfully sell it to customers.”
VanDagens led the start-up of COVISINT, an e-commerce hub between Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Renault-Nissan, where the automakers could share product development, quality, supply chain management and purchasing applications. He also served as a board member and officer of Wingcast, a Ford-Qualcomm telematics joint venture.
His passion for spotting early trends also helped Ford create successful relationships with Microsoft and SIRIUS® satellite radio. These relationships led to Ford’s first-to-market launches of in-vehicle technologies such as Ford SYNC®, SIRIUS Travel Link™ and Ford Work Solutions™.
“At Ford, we understand that our success depends on being the first to market with the technologies that people crave,” he said. “My passion is blurring the line between consumers’ vehicles and their mobile devices. Our telematics advances are now getting close to the ultimate goal of seamless in-vehicle communications integration.”
VanDagens grew up in Michigan with a passion for cars, boats and motorcycles – anything with an engine. At one point in his childhood the family had nine cars in the driveway, running the gamut from British sports cars to American muscle cars. And that’s not counting the minibikes and powerboats at the family’s cottage up north.
He also has an anecdotal connection to Ford Motor Company from his distant past. “There are no official records to prove it, but our family history says my great grandfather was good friends with Henry Ford,” said VanDagens. “He owned the Morton Bread Company and supplied Ford facilities with bread for the employees. My grandmother often recounted many family stories involving Henry Ford including dancing with him on at least one occasion.”
Perhaps it was fate that VanDagens, who has an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Indiana University, would end up at Ford. And, while he agrees that his career path has been a bit nontraditional, VanDagens feels that the extent of his experience is part of what helps him see solutions that others might miss.
Having a range of experiences is what my current job is about,” said VanDagens. “It’s not engineering in its traditional sense – it’s working with the teams to develop new ways of delivering things we haven’t thought of before. To get ahead of the competition, you’ve got to have people who are entrepreneurs who can deliver new products in a unique way, which is exactly what we’re trying to do in vehicle telematics right now.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- VanDagens is musically inclined; he played in a garage rock band in college and taught his daughter to play the piano
- Married to his wife, Bridget, for 17 years, VanDagens has three children
- VanDagens currently has an Expedition and an Edge to help shuttle the kids and a dog, but he’s waiting for a new 2010 Taurus to arrive
- VanDagens is a single-digit-handicap golfer, and he dreams of one day playing a round at Augusta
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Jan. 7, 2010