Deere’s May joins board of Ford Motor Co.

John May, chairman of Deere & Co., recently was elected to Ford Motor Co.’s expanded board of directors.

Mr. May’s appointment to Ford’s revamped board brings its complement of members to 15. The 10th CEO of the Moline, Illinois-based tractor giant also will serve on the board’s Finance, Compensation, Talent and Culture, and Nominating and Governance committees, according to a news release from the auto manufacturer.


Mr. May joined Ford’s board Dec. 9, less than a month after the 184-year-old John Deere company reached an agreement with more than 10,000 striking United Auto Workers that ended a five-week work stoppage at multiple Midwest Deere plants. Labor contracts for all three Big Three automakers, including Ford, are set to expire in 2023.

Mr. May was named chairman of Deere in May 2020, and CEO in November 2019. Under his watch, the company recorded record profits including a net income of $5.963 billion in fiscal year 2021, compared to $2.75 billion in fiscal 2020.

Under his leadership, Deere also is revolutionizing the agriculture and construction industries through the rapid introduction of connectivity and advanced technology, Ford’s release said.

Last month, for example, Deere signed a definitive agreement to acquire majority ownership in Kreisel Electric, Inc., a battery technology provider based in Rainbach im Mühlkreis, Austria. The company develops high-density, high-durability electric battery modules and packs and has developed a charging infrastructure platform that uses its patented battery technology.

Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chair, said that Mr. May’s experience helping to transform Deere as a smart industrial company is relevant to Ford’s own ambitious transformation, and brings additional valuable insight to the Ford board.

“Our industry is in an exciting period of disruption and we’re changing Ford in significant ways that are good for all our customers and stakeholders, with advanced technology and digital connectivity at the center,” Mr. Ford said. “That’s what Deere is doing in its businesses, making John’s expertise invaluable to our board as the Ford management team executes the company’s strategy for growth and value creation.”

Ford designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of connected, increasingly electrified passenger and commercial vehicles, its news release said. It also is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, connected vehicle services and mobility solutions, including self-driving technology.  

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Connected Vehicle program, connected technology enables cars, buses, trucks, trains, roads and other infrastructure, and smartphones and other devices to “talk” to one another.

In addition to his time as CEO and chairman, Mr. May has held leadership roles at Deere that include serving as president and COO; president of the Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division, responsible for the Americas and Australia and several major global businesses; chief information officer; and president, Agricultural Solutions. He also spent three years as managing director of Deere’s China operations during a period of significant growth. He joined the company in 1997 after five years as a management consultant at KPMG Peat Marwick.

The Deere leader holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Maine.

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