What Fadi Mawal CPA thought was just an interim employment plan turned out to be the start of an immensely rewarding career path.
Fadi Mawal CPA’s strong connection with the Ford Motor Company began many years ago, though in a rather unexpected way.
It was the early 1990s, and Mawal had just completed a bachelor of business degree, but Australia was in a recession, and times were tough for new undergraduates seeking professional jobs.
As an interim plan, Mawal started working as a forklift driver, and soon heard that Ford was looking for drivers in its parts and service warehouse.
“I had always wanted to work at Ford, so I pursued it, and soon I was working there driving a forklift,” he says.
From there, Mawal’s career progressed quickly. He applied for an internally advertised job and was offered a role in the finance department, which, over the following 15 years, enabled Mawal to work across all the key functions of the business in Australia.
Next was a move to Ford’s Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Shanghai, where Mawal worked in several roles, including corporate financial controller and business strategy director.
Coming back to Australia in 2016, Mawal was the Australian CFO for four years before taking on his current role as sales director at Ford Motor Company Australia earlier this year.
“Coming across from production gave me a really good grounding in our business and the workforce, and that helped me become a better partner to the business,” Mawal says. “I think it’s really important to find your passion, and I’ve always had a strong connection with the ‘blue oval’.
That connection with the brand has been a strong motivating force for me to deliver results, and I think it’s also helped energise people around me.”
A large player in a smaller market
Although he has more than two decades with Ford under his belt, Mawal says the differences between the Asia-Pacific and Australian operations are pronounced.
In China, Ford has been a growing a business in a country with an expanding vehicle market, where more than 21 million passenger cars were sold in 2019 alone.
In Australia, Ford has been a dominant player in a much smaller market, where about one million cars are sold each year, and where the company has wound down its manufacturing activity.
“In Asia we couldn’t grow fast enough,” says Mawal.
“We built five new plants in China, and it was the most rapid expansion we had ever seen.”
Back in Australia, Ford has been scaling down manufacturing, and is instead investing in research and development of new tech for electric and self-driving driving vehicles.
“Ford is now a mobility company, providing the full spectrum of mobility solutions, and that is about looking after the full range of transportation needs, as well as producing vehicles,” says Mawal.
“At a global level, we are working with other partners to provide a cloud-based mobility and transportation system, so that when an autonomous vehicle is on the road, it is talking to the other cars around it and other infrastructure.”
While Ford vehicles are no longer produced in Australia, Ford still has a strong presence Down Under, with annual revenues of about A$3.8 billion and more than 2500 staff. Mawal says he is proud that Australia is one of Ford’s key global product development hubs.
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From CFO to sales director
“As CFO, I saw my role as driving results in the business, and financials are a key focus in times of economic uncertainty,” he says.
“Navigating these times has required us to have a strong focus on managing costs and cash flow to bring the breakeven down, and that means we have built a business that can withstand external shocks and be viable in the long term. Having just transitioned to the role of sales director, my focus now is building on these strong fundamentals by partnering with our dealer network in order to grow our business and offer great experiences to customers.”
This includes looking at new opportunities and adapting the company’s business model.
Ford’s Australian team has recently launched Ford 2nd Car, which is a membership service that gives Ford customers access to a second vehicle, in addition to the one they already own.
Mawal sees the initiative as a “whole new level of change and disruption in our industry”, and an example of how Ford is working to “stay ahead of the curve”.
One piece of advice
“Having success is all about building relationships, and that means supporting others and helping them achieve their goals. Mutual trust and respect are the foundation of any kind of success.”
Career success by playing to your strengths