Fields has long been seen as the CEO-in-waiting after he was promoted to chief operating officer in 2012. Before being appointed COO, Fields was in charge of Ford's operations in the Americas, making North America into a profit engine.
"Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford. Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO," Executive Chairman Bill Ford said.
Mulally has been credited with turning around the company, which he took over in 2006 after being personally appointed by Bill Ford. At the time the car maker was known for executive infighting, but Mulally changed that by instilling a team-focused culture at Ford.
Mulallly shed Ford's non performing brands like Mazda, Land Rover and Volvo. He took the bold step of mortgaging key company assets like its factories and iconic blu oval logo, to give the company enough cash to revamp its line of cars.
These efforts seem to have worked, as the company earned $7.2 billion in 2013, with enough profits to pay hourly factory workers a profit-sharing bonus of $8,800 each.
Fields has been by Mulally's side during the recovery and was even groomed by the latter. When Mulally joined Ford, Fields was known to have a hot temper but after embracing Mulally's work culture he has grown to become a more relaxed and polished leader.
"Fields learned a lot from Mulally," said auto analyst Michelle Krebs. "He picked up good habits to not get sidetracked and be laser-focused on product."
While some personnel changes are expected with the entry of a new CEO, insiders do not expect Fields to do anything radical.