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Tesla defends its ability to retain talent in a new statement following CFO’s departure

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Following the announcement of the departure of Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler last month, some industry watchers suggested that Tesla has difficulties retaining talent.

The company responded today in a statement which we added in full below.

Tesla’s response appears to have been triggered by a story in Bloomberg today that tried to link Wheeler’s departure to a potentially deeper problem at the company.

Here’s the statement:

“Tesla’s ability to attract and retain talent has been one of our biggest assets. In 2016, the attrition rate across Tesla was below industry average for technology companies. The length of tenure on the senior leadership team has been especially strong. Of Tesla’s most senior executives, 75% have more than 3 years of tenure, 60% have more than 6 years of tenure, and 20% have more than a decade of tenure. Of everyone who has had a leadership position at Tesla over our 14-year existence, nearly 60% are still with the company today. In a number of cases, including most recently with our CFO, Deepak Ahuja, and another one of our most senior leaders, Jerome Guillen, they left Tesla to take a break only to return a short time later. They came back because they deeply love the company. Furthermore, our senior leadership team continues to expand with new hires, which include over the past couple of years senior executives to lead manufacturing, global sales and service, and Autopilot, just to name a few.

At a company with 30,000 people, particularly one like Tesla where people work especially hard to achieve what is a very challenging mission, there will inevitably be some amount of turnover. However, the relative lack of turnover at Tesla has been one of the biggest reasons for the company’s success. The company has nearly 2,000 employees at the manager level and above, and selectively cherry-picking the few who choose to leave, many of whom had long tenures of their own at the company, is neither fair nor instructive.”

Similar stories came out last year after a few executives left, including Tesla’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Deputy General Counsel, James ChenVP of Finance and Worldwide Controller, Michael Zanoni, and Ricardo Reyes, Tesla’s VP of Global Communications.

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