JIM HOLLAND: BRINGING LUXURY LEVELS OF CONTENT, CRAFTSMANSHIP TO REINVIGORATED FORD EXPLORER
Jim Holland, chief nameplate engineer, 2011 Ford Explorer
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While attending college as an architecture student, Jim Holland worked as a rough carpenter in the construction trades. This experience taught him the value of working swiftly, without losing sight of the tiniest of details. Quickly and correctly framing a closet showed Holland how his handiwork fit into the broader perspective of a new home under construction.
“Carpentry taught me the importance of detail orientation and craftsmanship, while following a prescribed time line so that all elements come together in proper sequence,” said Holland. “While I didn’t realize it at the time, lessons I learned as a rough carpenter on a construction site apply to my role as Explorer chief engineer.”
Holland was charged with the reinvention and repositioning of the Ford Explorer, the SUV that defined the segment in the 1990s. Like building a custom home, this requires coordination of multiple teams, perspectives, resources and time lines.
Deeper understanding of Explorer owners – their needs and preferences – gives Holland useful perspective in reconciling all of the details and tradeoffs necessary to deliver a vehicle that redefines the SUV.
As one third of Explorer production is earmarked for export, Holland and the program team balanced global customer preferences, while engineering the vehicle to meet the most stringent requirements of each market where it is sold.
Holland brings this global perspective, having served as chief engineer of Global Hybrid Vehicle Strategy before his Explorer assignment. Prior to his hybrid work, he served as chief engineer at Land Rover for three programs under the top-of-the-line Range Rover nameplate. These posts brought significant influence to his Explorer role.
“Working on the company’s global hybrid strategy underscored the consumer importance of sustainability,” said Holland. “Explorer efficiency is now a huge attribute for us. Both the V-6 and the EcoBoost™ I-4 deliver class-leading fuel economy with the power that SUV customers expect. The new Explorer has the capability to take families out into the environment, while preserving it, too.”
Holland’s Land Rover experience is also readily apparent in the 2011 Explorer.
“The new Explorer represents the democratization of luxury SUV levels of style, craftsmanship, technology and capability,” said Holland. “Explorer’s terrain management system is a great example of high-end SUV technology – and the customer empowerment this technology enables – becoming much more broadly accessible.”
Two years into the architecture program at Lawrence Technological University, Holland saw that graduates were having difficulty finding suitable entry-level positions. Given his appreciation and aptitude for art, chemistry and physics, he retrenched and switched his field of study to mechanical engineering, ultimately earning a Bachelor of Science degree.
On July 2, 1984, Holland – a Michigan native – started with Ford as a body engineer. He spent five years in engineering followed by five years in product planning, while going on to earn his MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy after business hours.
Holland also served for five years as a Vehicle Engineering Development supervisor on Ford Truck programs, supervising a team that delivered best-in-class noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) control on Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator nameplates.
Holland’s management style is characterized by listening intently to all perspectives – including his own well-seasoned intuition – and being decisive.
“Listening well, with customers, suppliers or program team members, takes more time but yields much more favorable outcomes,” said Holland. “Developing personal relationships helps everyone see and share the vision, and really gets them excited about their contributions to the larger picture.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Jim is married, an occasional golfer and a passionate – and sometimes competitive – bicyclist, riding both traditional and fixed-gear road bikes
- While never directly employed with Ford, Jim’s father worked for many years in the construction of several Ford buildings including World Headquarters, multiple Rouge facilities, the Dearborn Dynamometer, and Rawsonville and Saline manufacturing plants
- As a high school student, Jim spent a year in his parents’ native Ireland
- Jim’s aesthetic sensibility, a byproduct of his construction experience and architecture aspirations, has given him a special affinity for balancing engineering solutions with vehicle design direction
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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 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com .
May 14, 2010