Among these are CTO JB Straubel and Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, as well as President of Automotive Jerome Guillen, who joined Tesla back in 2010, before the first Model S rolled off the line. Other executives that recently rose through the ranks, such as CFO Zach Kirkhorn, have also been with the company since the days of the original Tesla Roadster.
It is evident from Tesla’s growing pains that Musk is still learning the ropes as the company’s chief executive. This became evident during Tesla’s Model 3 production ramp, a “bet the company” strategy that Musk describes as one of the most arduous points in his career. These experiences ultimately give Musk a certain advantage over his fellow CEOs in the auto market, as it allows him to have a clear vision of Tesla’s strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, enables him to roll out strategies that benefit the company in the long-term. An excellent example of this is Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, a substantial investment that was once deemed a folly by critics, but is turning out to be an act of remarkable foresight today.
Musk is recognized for being a disruptive visionary and he really is. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO also deserves some credit for being a leader that sticks with a company through every up and down. Part of this is likely due to the fact that he sincerely fights for Tesla and its mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable energy. Ultimately, this could very well be a big difference-maker for Tesla’s chances of survival and potential success.