WHEN BRADLEY GAYTON was named Ford Motor Company’s general counsel in January, he was already familiar with the multi-billion corporation. In fact, Ford
Motor is the only place that Gayton has ever worked as
He joined Ford’s Office of General Counsel in 1991.
“I spent the summer here as a second year law student
and after that summer they offered me a full-time
position to commence after graduation,” he recalled.
“I took the bar on a Wednesday/Thursday and started
work the following Monday. I needed to get to work,
Over the years he held positions of increasing
responsibility within the Office of General Counsel
including serving as director of Legal Affairs – Cana-
da, Mexico and South America with responsibility for
managing all aspects of Ford’s legal matters related
to regional manufacturing, sales and service, and
distribution activities. He also served as assistant tax
officer with responsibility for U.S. federal and state
compliance, analysis, transfer pricing, and all aspects
of global indirect taxes including litigation.
Prior to his current position, Gayton was corporate
secretary and assistant general counsel for four years.
Before that he served as assistant general counsel and
assistant corporate secretary for a year.
Today as general counsel, Gayton leads the
company’s litigation, tax, corporate and intellectual
property efforts. He also advises the company’s board
of directors and senior management on a wide range
of legal issues, and oversees its General Auditor’s.
There wasn’t an exact moment when Gayton set
his sights on his current position. “I can’t remember
one day deciding I wanted to be GC. But I’ve always
had ambition to succeed at everything I do. And
while I’m ambitious, I recognized that I work in an
office of incredibly talented people. So, I’ve always fo-
cused primarily on trying to develop my lawyering and
leadership skills so that I could be considered a viable
candidate for this position.
Growing up in Syracuse, New York, Gayton was
encouraged to do well in school. His father and mother
(an engineer and nurse, respectively) were supportive
and valued education, and he credits his fourth grade
teacher, Rosemary Dugan, with playing a large role in
his academic development: “She singled me out as
a talented student and tutored me on her own time
by giving fifth grade math and reading assignments,
which she would review with me after school 3 days a
week. From that point forward “I loved school and dug
in academically.” Gayton holds a bachelor’s degree in
business and a law degree from the State University of
New York at Buffalo.
Diversity and inclusion is important to Ford, says
General Counsel and Vice president
Gayton. “As we’re recruiting I make an effort to ensure
that our pool of applicants is diverse. But once here,
I don’t differentiate in terms of development. I feel
equally obligated to develop all members of the office.”
Gayton particularly enjoys the people develop-
ment aspect of his job: “I like watching people grow
and being part of that,” he said. “It’s important for the
organization. There are quite a few people who spend
large parts of their career at Ford Motor Company,
including much of our OGC leadership team—half of
which also came from the summer clerk program.”
Bradley M. Gayton
Ford Motor Company