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Tesla loses one of its most senior executives and Gigafactory builder

Electrek has learned that Tesla lost one of its most senior executives and the man behind the construction of Tesla’s Gigafactories, Kevin Kassekert, who left the automaker last week.

Kassekert graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1999.

He then went on to have a more than a decade long career in the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley before joining Tesla in 2012 as Director of Infrastructure Development.

In 2016, he was promoted and at the time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote about Kassekert:

“Kevin led the construction and development of our Gigafactory in Nevada, turning what was a pile of rocks in the Sierra Nevada mountains into a factory employing 12 thousand people with greater output than the entire rest of the world’s battery factories combined, in roughly three years. That is insanely badass.”

He was promoted to VP of People and Places – making him one of the top executives at Tesla with responsibilities over “Human Resources, Facilities, Construction, and Infrastructure Development.”

The engineer was behind most of Tesla’s recent construction projects.

Sources told Electrek that Tesla eventually removed his oversight of human resources and Kassekert ended up leaving Tesla altogether last week after more than 7 years at the company.

Tesla and Kassekert both didn’t answer requests for comments.

Electrek’s Take

Tesla is known for having somewhat of a high turnover. Last year, the automaker lost three vice presidents over just a week period and some high-level people, like CTO JB Straubel and CFO Deepak Ahuja, left the company, but things appeared to have calmed down on that front over the last few months.

Kassekert is the first executive in a while that we heard is leaving Tesla and if we are to trust Elon’s words on his involvement in building Gigafactories, it sounds like he is going to be missed.

It’s one of the biggest complaints I hear about Tesla and Elon Musk. They can not keep talent for a long period of time. Elon overworks them.

Last night, I had dinner with Ben Schaffer, President of Unplugged Performance, who I think has some of the best insights into Tesla, and when I brought up this issue, he had an interesting perspective on it.

He explained that for Tesla it’s not that big of an issue. Of course, they would like to keep talented people as long as possible, but it’s more of a cycle.

There are a lot of talented engineers in the world and most of them want to work at Tesla and for Elon, who Shaffer describes as the best engineer in the world.

Schaffer told me:

“It’s a magnetic effect and the magnet is Elon, the world’s most brilliant engineer. That, and Tesla’s mission, which is solving the world’s biggest problem.”

He believes in Tesla’s ability to keep attracting top talent and even if they don’t stay for too long, Tesla and even Elon himself are absorbing a lot of their knowledge and using it long after they are gone.

It’s also not to say that the people are disposable, but it’s an interesting perspective to look at it as a cycle.

What do you think? let us know in the comment section below.

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