Ford recently announced plans to boost its 2013 hiring goal for salaried employees to 3,000. It’s about halfway to meeting that goal. Ford LogoThe auto giant is looking for Software Engineers in both product development and in IT, according to Vijay Sankaran, IT Chief Technology Director. Ford's IT department is slated to gain 160 people, while product development will gain about 1,000. Most of the positions will be based in Dearborn, Mich. "If you look at the connected-vehicle space, we’re really looking at how to offer consumers more services while they’re being transported safely and securely in our vehicles. So, there are projects across all of those areas, whether it’s re-engineering how dealer ordering takes place, how engineers manage their materials to our financial systems. There’s growth across all those different functions," Sankaran says.

Job Openings

"We’re looking for skills to innovate the business -- analytics to look at Big Data across the enterprise [and] architecture, including mobile or cloud solutions, and how to connect all those together," says Sankaran. He added that security skills are huge because of Ford's numerous endpoints and that the auto maker looks at security differently on a global basis. Additionally, infrastructure areas, such as storage and data center engineering, are considered critical to the company's efforts to foster the level of connectivity that it needs in the future. Ford also wants software development professionals – people who can understand and deliver solutions with deep knowledge in Java and some of the more modern development languages, as well as mobile development platforms. The new hires will be working on projects across the company. "We have demand in product development for next-generation engineering solutions – how do we manage all the parts on our vehicles much more intelligently," Sankaran says. "We’re launching next-generation technologies within our plants to create a more flexible manufacturing infrastructure."

Standing Out

Sankaran says he looks for people with a highly innovative mindset, people who have creative ideas about how Ford can leverage its information or technology to create value for its business or consumers. Second, he looks for versatility. For someone who has "evolved their career tangentially," not someone who has been pigeon-holed in a single technology. "A willingness to learn is so important," Sankaran says. "Willingness to contribute and learn from others…We’re really big on the One Ford collaborative behaviors. How well do they collaborate, how well do they like working on teams?"


"In IT, we encourage people to have a lot of flexibility," he says. "This is a global business, and we give people a lot of tools – whether it’s tools to provide collaborative videoconferencing or instant messaging, document collaboration sites… A lot of our people work from remote, telecommuting type of arrangements certain days of the week, or have other flexible work arrangements." Ford offers people the opportunity to work on really challenging, complex projects, he says. And the organization is relatively flat, so they can contribute ideas and have those ideas heard.

Advice for Experienced Professionals

"No. 1 is fit," Sankaran said. "We want to see people with good communication skills, who can articulate their background and experiences very clearly. Ultimately, a person could have the best technical skills in the world, but if they can’t communicate or collaborate, it’s going to be a hard fit in an environment where IT is helping to support our business." The second thing: Has the person invested in continuous learning? Has the person been doing the same job for the past 10 or 15 years or continually evolved their career as technology has changed? “The third thing is how do they see themselves relating to Ford from a broader perspective?” he said.  “A lot of people will come in and be interested in Ford from an in-vehicle technology perspective. I look for people who have a broader interest around the enterprise that is Ford Motor Co. as well. Technology is not just inside our vehicles, it’s also a broader platform.”

Advice for New Graduates

Sankaran says he looks for people who have been studying what Ford is doing, understands how Ford is perceived in the market and can offer ideas based on that. "First and foremost, we’re an automotive company, not a technology company. But we’re quickly becoming an automotive technology company," he says. He looks for people who keep up with the industry, with what Google, Microsoft or IBM, are doing and "have aligned some of the skills they want to represent themselves with, with an understanding of what a company like Ford might need – things like analytics and different kinds of software development. They really need to articulate how they fit in." Ford also seeks people who have a diverse set of experiences in college – and not just from a technical standpoint. These grads would have shown leadership and collaboration within other organizations in college. "We’re looking for people with a lot of versatility and who can grow within our collaborative culture," he says.