Tesla Motors (TSLA), headed by famed entrepreneur Elon Musk, is considered the predominant firm leading the development of electric vehicles, even though the company remains far from achieving mass-market sales volume. Musk and the rest of Tesla's executive management team continue pushing the company forward with moves such as its strategic joint venture with Panasonic Corporation (PCRFY) to become the overwhelmingly largest producer of lithium-ion battery packs.
Although Tesla has yet to attain profitability, Musk and Tesla's leadership have had an up-and-down relationship with investors. The company's stock has struggled to maintain its history of solid returns from 2018. So who exactly is part of the Tesla Motors leadership driving company decisions?
- Elon Musk remains the CEO and director of Tesla Motors as of January 2023.
- Zachary Kirkhorn is the Chief Financial Officer (also referred to as Master of Coin) at Tesla Motors.
- Andrew Baglino is the Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy Engineering.
- Past leadership includes Deepak Ahuja, JB Straubel and Jerome Guillen.
Elon Musk is the co-founder, chief executive officer (CEO), director, product architect, and unquestionably the primary driving force at Tesla Motors. Musk, a native of South Africa, is also the founder, CEO, and chief technology officer (CTO) of SpaceX and chair of SolarCity following Tesla's 2016 acquisition of the key solar power firm.
In acquiring SolarCity, Musk has stated his intention to create a large-scale integrated renewable energy firm that can become a major provider of both solar panels and the storage batteries needed to drive them.
Musk, who holds a bachelor's degree in physics earned at the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, is both an engineer and inventor. He is a trustee of the Musk Foundation, which actively promotes green technology and the development of renewable energy sources.
Musk's previous entrepreneurial success includes being one of the co-founders of the mega-successful payment-processing firm PayPal (PYPL). Although Tesla has suffered setbacks, few investors doubt Musk's ability to deliver eventually on the promises foreseen in Tesla's future.
Zachary J. Kirkhorn
Having assumed the position of Chief Financial Officer in March 2019, Kirkhorn succeeded Deepak Ahuja as CFO. Previously, Kirkhorn assumed various finance positions within Tesla, where he's worked since 2010. Before becoming CFO, Zach was most recently Vice President, Finance, Financial Planning and Business Operations from December 2018 to March 2019. Kirkhorn holds degrees in economics and mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard University.
Baglino succeeded Jeffrey Brian "JB" Straubel in October 2019, who previously held the position of Chief Technology Officer. In contrast, Baglino took on a majority of Straubel's responsibilities but his title is Senior Vice President, Powertrain and Energy Engineering. He has been at Tesla since March 2006, and holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
Jeffrey Brian “JB” Straubel
Jeffrey Brian Straubel, more commonly referred to as “JB,” was the 15-year tenured chief technology officer of Tesla Motors and a member of the company’s founding team. As of July 2019, Musk announced that Straubel would move to a "senior advisor" role. Straubel oversaw all of the technical and engineering designs for all of Tesla’s vehicles in his role at Tesla. He was also responsible for overseeing research and development (R&D), evaluating new technology and designs, due diligence with key vendors, and validating systems testing, among other responsibilities.
Straubel is also a regular lecturer and guest presenter at Stanford University, his alma mater, where he teaches an energy storage integration class as part of the school's atmosphere and energy program.
Guillen was Tesla's President of Automotive and Heavy Duty Trucking, roles he held from 2018 to 2021. However, Guillen is no stranger to Tesla—he'd been at the company since 2007 and had various leadership roles, including Vice President of Trucks & Other Programs and Vice President of Worldwide Sales & Service. Guillen was the Model S Program Director and has worked generally in the automotive industry for most of his career.
Guillen holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, including a dual degree in energy technologies and mechanical engineering from Escuela Tecnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales and Ecole Nationale Superieure de Techniques Avancees, respectively.
Deepak Ahuja was CFO at Tesla from March 2017 to May 2019. He brought more than 20 years of global automotive finance experience to the role. He holds two Master of Science degrees—one in Materials Engineering from Northwestern University and another in Business from Carnegie Mellon University.