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A Day in the Life: Vice President of Global Design, Moray Callum

Article created for My Ford Magazine: by Kent Black

Callum first joined the company in 1995 and has been integral in shaping some of its most successful models, including the 2010 Taurus and Fusion.

Dawn Arrival

As the new vice president of Global Design at Ford, Moray Callum, 54, must sometimes leave his beloved Ann Arbor home in the dark, early mornings, long before he can gaze with pride on its well-tended gardens or even have a nice cuppa with his wife, Mary. Mary does not wake when he leaves for the 45-minute drive to Dearborn, though one of his cats occasionally manages to open an eye.

“[The cat] looks at me like, ‘Where the hell you going at this hour?’ ” laughs Callum. “I usually tell her, ‘I’m going off to make some money to support you!’ ”

Callum climbs into his Lincoln Navigator (“which,” he says, “has been very, very good in the snow this winter”), though he looks with some regret at the empty space in his garage once occupied by his 2014 Shelby, sold off last fall before the severe winter weather set in. Still, there are two roadster projects in various states of completion: a ’34 and the iconic ’32 that Callum admits he manages to “put a bolt into about once every two weeks.”

Callum pulls into the Product Development Center parking lot between 6:30 and 8 a.m., depending upon his first meeting of the day. The center is a historic building from the early 1950s that Callum appreciates not only for the extremely wide corridors that can accommodate the various vehicles forever being moved to and from the showroom but also for the courtyard.

Callum lays tape on a 3-D clay model of the 2015 Mustang as Exterior Design Manager Kemal Curic looks on. Clay is the ideal material for vehicle prototypes as it allows modelers to carve or smooth away accents. Ford designers use tape to show modelers the lines they want perfected on the car.

Strolling the Design Studios

If (to his not-so-secret delight) he has no immediate morning meetings to attend, Callum relishes taking a stroll through one of the seven studios dedicated to various models: one of the two truck studios or the Lincoln studio (all of which he oversaw from 2006 to 2013), or one of the interior studios, or the plastic or metal studios for fabrication. As a designer who helped shape the Mazda MX-5 sports car, the 2000 Ford Taurus and the 1998 Ford Super Duty truck, he likes nothing more than smelling modeling clay and seeing his colleagues’ piles of napkin sketches. “If I have the free time, I like to have a little walk about,” he says. “It helps keep me up-to-date with everything going on.” There are about 550 designers in this section, but add on the 5 studios in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia and the number doubles.

Callum says his meetings fall into two categories. “There are the corporate leadership meetings (that address) strategies outside of design,” he says, in which he leads or participates in what he calls his “vice president role.” “And then there are the internal design meetings. They’re really quite a bit different in terms of structure. The corporate ones are very structured whereas the design ones are a lot more casual just in terms of getting updates and getting feedback. There’s a lot of raising of hands and discussion. Sometimes I even manage to sneak a little sketch I’ve done myself in there.”

The team reviews the cabin of the 2015 Mustang at the Interior Studio. The car’s interior features an “aeronautical theme,” thanks in part to its active glove compartment door, which encapsulates the passenger-side airbag. “It’s a game changer,” Letson says.

Taking Ford Design Worldwide

Though the pace sounds unrelenting, Callum says his schedule isn’t fast “as much as it’s always full. There are not a lot of quiet moments.”

Especially intense have been the last few months, when he not only took the reins of Ford Design worldwide but, together with his team, introduced the highly anticipated 2015 Ford Mustang in time for its 50th birthday.

“All the programs are different. Sometimes we really know what we’re doing from the beginning, like with the Ford trucks. Similarly, we all had a very clear idea of what a Mustang needs to be and what we needed to do to take it forward. We spoke with our customers to understand how much we could push the design, but stay true to Mustang. And we had a lot of lively discussions within the company because of the significance of the vehicle. And it wasn’t just the designers, but everyone involved with the vehicle at every level.”

Although he can’t provide details, he’s excited to be leaving in the next week for California where he’ll visit with designers on a new Ford prototype. It’s a project, he says, “which is exactly my bread and butter.”

Callum and the team check out one of the very first prototypes of the 2015 Mustang, which was built out of fiberglass within the Product Development Center.

Garden Musings

After he closes up shop, Callum heads home to Ann Arbor after 6 in the evening or “frequently much, much later.” Being a chief of Global Design for Ford is a far cry from his origins in Dumfries, Scotland, where he and his brother, Ian (now head of design for Jaguar), obsessively wrote to car companies for brochures and posters with which they adorned their bedroom walls.

Callum admits the job doesn’t leave him much time to do anything when he finally arrives home, but he loves the weekends at home, especially in good weather. “We have quite a lovely garden. It’s a great place to simply sit and contemplate.”

He’s also determined to get those hot rods finished one of these days, though for the moment they’re a bit of a sore subject around the Callum household. “I took my wife out in the ’34. She was concerned and she asked me, ‘Is this thing safe?’ I said, ‘Of course it’s safe.’ And the first right hand corner we went around, her door flew open. So I’m trying to steer around the corner and grabbing at the door, and she’s screaming and trying to close the door. It’s a very nice car, but she hasn’t been in it since.”