Ford appoints its first South African head of finance

YOTA Baron has been appointed the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Ford South Africa. Baron previously served as CFO for Direct Markets within the Ford International Markets Group.

South Africa-born Baron takes over as CFO of the local operations from Joseph (Pepe) Verga, who will be repatriating back to the United States. Verga has been Ford South Africa’s CFO since November 2016.

Neale Hill, MD of Ford South Africa said: “We welcome Yota back to the Ford South Africa family, where her vast global experience in finance will further enhance our drive to reinvigorate our business as we focus on creating must-have products and services, treating customers like family and delivering on our goal of turning our automotive operations around to be more competitive.

“It is fitting that the announcement of Yota’s appointment happens in August, which is Women’s Month, as she will be Ford South Africa’s first female CFO. Her intimate knowledge of the local operations, matched to her extensive financial acumen on a global stage, will be invaluable during this exciting new chapter for Ford in South Africa. 

“We also extend our gratitude to Pepe for his sound financial leadership of the company over the past five years, and wish him every success for his return to the US.”

Baron has gained a wealth of experience during her 31-year career at Ford, with her focus primarily on emerging markets in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions in a number of leadership positions, including internal control, treasury, customs and tax, marketing, as well as manufacturing finance.

Ford SA said she was instrumental in setting up the company’s finance team in the regional Ford Dubai office for Middle East and Africa, where she was responsible for financial control of the Marketing Sales & Service division for two and a half years, before taking over the role of Profit Manager in March 2018 – a position she held until being appointed CFO for Ford Direct Markets in September 2020. 

Prior to relocating to Dubai, Baron was the Operations Controller at Ford South Africa, responsible for the financial management of the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria and the Struandale Engine Plant in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), between August 2013 and September 2015.

This followed almost seven years within the finance arm of the Asia Pacific region in Bangkok and Shanghai, first as Marketing Sales and Service Controller from 2007, then moving into the Business Planning Manager role in 2010.

“Returning back to South Africa and being reunited with our daughters, family and friends after a long separation due to travel restrictions has been a blessing and cannot be measured,” Baron says. “I am humbled by my appointment to serve as Ford South Africa’s CFO, having the opportunity to pay forward my learnings and experience while working abroad. It is an honour and a privilege, and I look forward to contributing to Ford South Africa’s future success, serving in the communities we work in and being back under the African sun.”

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