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Tesla announces management changes in busy week

Up in smoke: Tesla’s shares took a hit last week after CEO Elon Musk was seen puffing a joint on a popular podcast show.

New senior management changes, stock chaos, podcast controversy for Tesla

10 Sep 2018

TESLA Motors has announced a raft of senior management changes to cap off a tumultuous week that saw the company’s stock price tumble and its CEO Elon Musk raise eyebrows over a podcast appearance.
On Tuesday, Mr Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, discussing a number of topics over a two-and-a-half hour interview with the comedian and former mixed martial artist.
Mr Musk sipped whiskey during the podcast and even puffed on a joint offered by Rogan – cannabis is legal in the state of California, where the interview took place – which raised questions of professionalism from critics and caused the company’s shares to take a hit.
At close of business Friday, Tesla stocks fell 6.3 per cent to $263.24, the lowest it has closed since the start of April. It comes soon after another pitfall for the company’s shares, when last month Mr Musk publicly floated the idea of buying out investors and turning the company into a private enterprise.
He dropped the idea two weeks later after discussions with Telsa’s board of directors, however the company’s shares have dropped 30 per cent since the original announcement, and Mr Musk has been hit with a number of lawsuits concerning market manipulation, and a subpoena from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
However it is not all doom and gloom at the EV disruptor – Mr Musk wrote in a blog post that Tesla is “about to have the most amazing quarter in our history, building and delivering more than twice as many cars as we did last quarter”.
With production of the volume-selling Model 3 ramping up, Tesla was able to produce 28,578 examples of the sedan in the second quarter, more than triple the amount it managed in the first quarter and more than half of the 53,339 total Tesla deliveries in Q2.
If Mr Musk’s predictions are correct, the American company will break the 100,000 quarterly vehicle production barrier for the first time since its launch.
The eventful week was also marked by a raft of senior management changes, including seven new promotions and hires. This included two senior departures – a problem Tesla has grappled with in recent years.
Early last week, chief accounting officer Dave Morton announced he would stand down after less than one month in the position, citing the brand’s intense public scrutiny and “the pace within the company” as reasons for leaving. He emphasised that he had no disagreements with Tesla’s executives or financial reporting during his stint at the company.
Last week also saw the permanent resignation of chief people officer Gaby Toledano, who had previously been on personal leave in recent months to spend more time with her family.
Ms Toledano will be replaced by Kevin Kassekert, who will assume the new role of vice-president of people and places with responsibility for HR, facilities, construction and infrastructure development.
Mr Kassekert has been with Tesla for the past six years, previously working as vice-president of infrastructure development and heading the construction of the company’s Gigafactory in the Nevada desert.
Of the other management changes announced by Mr Musk, the most significant is the appointment of Jerome Guillen as president of automotive, who will oversee all automotive operations and program management and co-ordinate Tesla’s automotive supply chain. He will report directly to Mr Musk.
Mr Guillen has worked for Tesla for eight years, acting as the first Model S program manager, up to managing all vehicle engineering and worldwide sales and service, and recently playing a hand in ensuring the increase in Model 3 production.
One year after joining the company, Chris Lister has been promoted to vice-president of Gigafactory operations, leading production and manufacturing at the plant. He has experience with factory management from former employer PepsiCo.
Felicia Mayo has been promoted from senior HR director and head of Tesla’s diversity and inclusion program to vice-president, and will report directly to Mr Musk and Mr Kassekert.
Laurie Shelby has been appointed as vice-president of environmental, health and safety, starting at Tesla in 2017 after a 25-year career in workplace safety at industrial corporation Alcoa.
Vice-president of global recruiting has been awarded to Candy Nicola, who has spearheaded Tesla’s global recruiting efforts since 2015, and previously worked in recruitment for Apple and Electronic Arts (EA).
Lastly, Dave Arnold has been made senior director of global communications, having come across from his role as director of corporate communications at Virgin America.

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