Tesla is becoming the company of choice for next-generation auto workers

The Made-in-China Model . (Credit: Tesla China)

Tesla’s first handover ceremony for its Made-in-China Model 3 in Gigafactory 3 was memorable for a variety of reasons. For one, it proved that Tesla could meet or even exceed the already-ambitious goals of CEO Elon Musk. It was also an event that was made extra special when a young GF3 worker decided to propose to his partner with his blue MIC Model 3. 

The scene is representative of a trend that seems to be present in Tesla’s ranks: the company is becoming the de facto carmaker of choice for the next generation of auto workers. Gigafactory 3’s workers who were present at the handover ceremony were mostly young. This extends to the company’s executives as well. Unlike conventional executives from legacy auto, who are populated by veterans who have been in the business for decades, Tesla’s executives are young, aggressive, and even a tad bit ambitious. 

This observation was mentioned by Tesla owner-enthusiast @Ray4Tesla in a tweet following the handover event in Shanghai. Several executives from Tesla attended the MIC Model 3 delivery event, and all of them were in their 30s and 40s. They were articulate, energetic, and seemingly very motivated. In a way, the energy exuded by Tesla China’s executives was fitting for a company whose mission is literally to accelerate the advent of sustainability. 

Tesla’s allure for young professionals is not just limited to China. Recent comments from Jorg Steinbach, the Economics Minister of Brandenburg, suggested that Germany may be looking to Tesla to attract young talent as well. “I am optimistic that young people from all over Germany and far beyond want to take part in this project,” he said, adding that the arrival of the electric car maker could allow the region’s workers to future-proof their jobs. 

Perhaps it’s Tesla’s disruptive nature, or its startup nature, but the company continues to rank high among young job seekers. Working at Tesla is notoriously challenging, filled with long hours and hyper-ambitious targets. It’s essentially a Silicon Valley startup, but instead of a mobile app or an internet-based service, the company’s product happens to be electric cars and battery storage devices. Stories from former workers at Tesla tell of intense work environments and sudden changes of pace. Yet, it is also one that the best and brightest find very difficult to pass up. 

Credit: Tesla

Employer branding specialist Universum’s 2019 survey found that Tesla and SpaceX, two of CEO Elon Musk’s companies, are perceived by engineering students as the best employers in the country. For many young workers, particularly those whose idealism is still intact, there are few companies in the world worth working for, and one of them happens to be Tesla. Overall, it appears that for many of these young workers, the challenges that come with a job at Tesla are well worth it. 

Another reason for this is likely Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Bold and daring, Musk has been compared by the media to billionaire-genius-superhero Tony Stark/Iron Man. Just like the fictional Stark, Musk barrels through his projects with an intensity that’s near-obsessive, and at times, with seemingly little regard for his personal safety. While conventional auto CEOs are thought to spend their days behind a desk and at meetings, Musk is out on the roads testing the limits of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving on his personal vehicle. Musk is also known to get his hands dirty when needed, with the CEO being spotted torquing bolts with Tesla’s workers during the buildout of Tesla’s GA4 line for the Model 3 in the Fremont factory. 

Ultimately, it is quite inspiring to work for a company whose goal is not just to make money every quarter, but one that fights a far more important battle. It is also inspiring to work under a leader who puts himself in the front lines. This certainly seems to be the case, with a survey from job search marketplace Hired indicating that Musk is currently perceived by job seekers as the most inspiring leader in tech. This is something that has been noticed by veteran Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary, better known by his tongue-in-cheek nickname, Mr. Wonderful, as well. 

Elon Musk giving YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee a tour of the Fremont factory. [Credit: MKBHD/YouTube]

Prior to being a TSLA investor, O’Leary had been critical of the electric car maker. But one of the tipping points for the investing veteran came after watching electric vehicle races that involve engineering students from various schools. Automakers would usually send their HR teams to these races, in an effort to attract up-and-coming talent. But after each race, the Shark Tank judge realized that the winning teams all head over to one company: Tesla. This, according to O’Leary, is a big advantage for the electric car maker. 

“Every one of these engineers, the smoking hot kids that sit with their cars, the men and women that sleep with them for 24 hours a day; it’s an unusual culture I’ve never seen before. They all want to work at Tesla. Why? Because the teams are six to eight people. If they go to a legacy car company, they get drowned out in the back somewhere. These smart, young, men and women make a big difference as interns. I can’t believe the access to talent they have,” O ‘Leary said. 

With this in mind, it appears that Tesla’s future as an electric car maker is secured, at least with regards to its talent pool. Provided that the company maintains its course, and its leadership remains as motivated, there is very little doubt that the disruptor from Silicon Valley could attract the best and brightest workers when needed.

Tesla is becoming the company of choice for next-generation auto workers
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