Ford’s Chief Technology Officer, Ken Washington, left automaker Dearborn to work at Amazon, according to a Free Press report.
“Ken and Ford announced their plans to employees on Monday,” said Ford spokesman TR Reid. “This temporary transition is well planned. Ken will take on the role of vice president of software engineering at Amazon in Sunnyvale, California.”
Amazon is notoriously careful about its hiring and hasn’t put out any news releases yet. Washington still lists Ford on his LinkedIn.
“Washington will end his tenure at Ford on July 16, with Jim Buczkowski, a longtime Ford associate and Senior Henry Ford Technical Fellow, taking temporary responsibility for the company’s Research and Advanced Engineering team while a permanent successor for Washington is identified,” the staff memo said. provided by Reid.
The CTO’s current responsibilities include Ford’s next-generation vehicle electrical architecture; stack sensing and computing; energy, propulsion and sustainability; advanced materials and manufacturing; and automated controls and systems, says the Ford website. “He also leads Ford University and STEM research programs.”
Maintaining and growing those relationships is very important, Reid told the Free Press.
Have an impact
Washington has been CTO since June 2017, leading Ford’s worldwide research organization and overseeing the development and implementation of Ford’s technology strategy and plans. He worked with advanced engineers in Michigan, Silicon Valley, Germany, China, and Israel, according to his LinkedIn professional biography.
He was inducted into the National Engineering Academy in 2020.
“My path is not linear. It’s very indirect. And if you asked me 30 years ago if I would be CTO of Ford Motor Company, I would think you’re crazy,” Washington said in a March 2 discussion. hosted by the Franklin Institute science museum and educational center in Philadelphia.
“I’ve always wanted to do work that’s important and has significance for society, things that are meaningful. And I like to do things that are technically challenging and interesting. And I want to work around really great people, ” he said.
Ford checked those boxes when it came to recruiting, he said. “I knew I was going to learn something. I knew it was an important job to do. The automotive industry was undergoing a transformation and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Washington has served on the University of Michigan’s Engineering Leadership Advisory Board, according to the school’s website.
“A key part of Ford+ is its willingness and effectiveness in partnering with others for expertise, and Ken has been at the forefront of that within the company,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s product platform head and operations officer, in a staff memo. “He has had a tremendous influence in building on our capabilities and learning from others in a way that has made Ford a leader in connected vehicles.”
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Washington began working at Ford in August 2014 as vice president of research and advanced engineering. He oversees the development of technology strategies and plans for vehicles and mobility services, LinkedIn said. Ford’s advanced autonomous vehicle engineering efforts and Ford’s mobility research program began under his leadership, he said on LinkedIn.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped coordinate employee safety protocols.
Ford has announced a series of changes since CEO Jim Farley took over on October 1.
Farley said during an investor call that recruiting top tech talent is a high priority.
Ford has hired 600 software engineers this year alone for a total of more than 7,000 software engineers in the US and Canada working in design, architecture, data, testing and other technical and infrastructure roles.
But someone with Washington’s impressive credentials may be hard to find.
From space to cars to computing
Prior to joining Ford, Washington worked as vice president of the Center for Advanced Technology at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., where he led a team of scientists and engineers in research and development.
Washington has been the first chief privacy officer at Lockheed Martin, where he built the company’s privacy program, set the direction of the privacy strategy, and assembled a team of privacy professionals to execute the strategy. Washington also previously served as vice president and chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin’s internal IT organization.
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Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in February 2007, Washington served as chief information officer for Sandia National Laboratories. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University and is a fellow of the MIT Seminar XXI program on International Relations.
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