Mark Fields will become the new leader of Ford

The COO carmaker Ford , Mark Fields, will lead this year the company following the retirement of current CEO Alan Mulally , several specialized media reported , citing sources close to the company today .

The change in the leadership of Ford will occur sooner than expected , The Wall Street Journal said , citing a source familiar with the situation.

Mulally , 68, has previously said he would stay at least around 2014.

Ford , which has refused to confirm the information , had anticipated that Fields, 53, would probably be the successor to the current CEO , even before promoting it to his current position in 2012 .

The Journal notes that the transition will occur at a good time for Ford , which has seen strong results in its operations in China and North America.

Fields was head of Ford’s operations in North and South America before moving to his current position and had to supervise over the last decade closing plants and laying off more than 39,000 employees.

He is also credited with preventing the company had to qualify for bankruptcy protection , which had to resort rivals General Motors and Chrysler.

Natural state of New Jersey , Fields studied business administration at Harvard University and worked at IBM before joining Ford.