Geoff Polites, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover, has died peacefully in Australia at the age of 60.
The current Presient of Ford Australia, Bill Osborne, said:
“Geoff was home in Australia for the birth of his first grandchild and unfortunately became critically ill while here. He passed away with his wife and family by his side.”
Despite battling ill health for the past two years, Geoff never lost sight of his goal to return Jaguar Land Rover to profitability. He exhibited similar strength of leadership and determination during his time as President of Ford Australia – qualities which resulted in the successful introduction of the BA Falcon in 2002 and the Ford Territory in 2004.
“Despite having moved onto other roles within Ford Motor Company, Geoff continued to believe passionately in the products and the team at Ford Australia. His energy, enthusiasm and support for our business will be sorely missed.”
Mr Osborne said that for those who knew him well, he would be missed as a great friend, keen Swans supporter and dedicated family man.
Mr Polites, a former car dealer, was President of Ford Australia, and credited with reviving the company’s fortunes in Austalia, before heading overseas to a number of very senior posts with the Ford Motor Company, including heading up its European operations.
Mr. Polites, credited with leading the team that returned the Jaguar Land Rover business back to profitability and successfully steering it through its ongoing sale process to Tata Motors, had been battling serious illness for the past two years.
“Geoff’s untimely passing robs his family and friends of a man who was a real inspiration to us all,” said Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer, Ford Motor Company.
“His drive and determination, combined with his clear sense of vision for the business, played a huge role in turning round the business at Jaguar Land Rover and returning it to profitability.
“ Geoff ensured that Jaguar Land Rover was not distracted and continued to focus on the fundamentals of the business during the recent sale process, despite at the time also fighting his own personal health battle.
“He was a trusted colleague and someone who was much respected not just by his peers but by all who had the privilege to work with him. Our sympathies are with his wife and family at this difficult time,” said Mulally.
Lewis Booth, executive vice president responsible for Ford Motor Company’s businesses in Europe, said: “For many of us at Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, we’ve lost not just a respected colleague but a great friend.
“Geoff was always someone to look up to throughout his almost 40-year career in the automotive industry. His passion for the car business was legend, but the resolve he showed since taking over as CEO of Jaguar Land Rover in 2005 was something very special.
“His leadership of the team that has put the Jaguar Land Rover business back into profitability has been exceptional.
“Geoff has given Jaguar Land Rover the solid foundation and established the strong management team it needs for a successful future. We will miss our friend very much.”
David Smith, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief financial officer, will take over as the acting chief executive officer at Jaguar Land Rover until a successor is appointed.
– David Twomey