Tesla is about to embark on one of its biggest challenges to date: the launch of a mass-market vehicle. The $35,000 Model 3, which will be Tesla’s cheapest car by far when it launches later this year, will dramatically increase demand. That means faster car production, which in turn means more employees. To help with this monumental task, it’s hired Gaby Toledano, a former Electronic Arts executive, who will oversee the company’s human resources department.
On Tuesday, Tesla announced that Toledano will be the company’s new Chief People Officer, answering directly to CEO Elon Musk. The move comes at a big time for the company: alongside Model 3 production, which is expected to start in July, Tesla has been dealing with a stream of accusations around poor working conditions at its Fremont plant.
Toledano is joining the company at a turbulent time, but has the experience for the challenge: alongside her 10 years at EA, she’s served as human resources leader for Microsoft and Oracle. She currently serves on the board of directors for four technology companies.
“We’re excited for Gaby to bring her experience and leadership to Tesla as we accelerate towards a sustainable future,” the company said in a statement.
Toledano will be taking over from Arnnon Geshuri, who served in the role for more than eight years and saw the company expand to its current employee count of 30,000.
But the company’s current output is miniscule compared to what comes next. Earlier this year, Tesla announced it had set a new production record by making 25,000 cars in the first quarter of 2017. The end goal is to produce cars at an annual rate of 500,000 by the end of 2018, half of which will be Model 3 vehicles. This represents around a fivefold increase over current production rates.
Tesla is rapidly expanding its premises to reach these goals, which will mean an expansion of personnel. When complete, the Gigafactory in the Nevada desert will be the world’s biggest building at 5.8 million square foot. A second Gigafactory will produce solar panels, while plans for a third, fourth, and fifth Gigafactory are already in development.
Toledano has a big job ahead if she wants to help with the expansion without a hitch. Answering directly to Musk will place a lot of pressure on the role: Tesla’s market valuation recently surpassed Ford, but with Ford making more cars per year, Musk’s company is valued on the basis of future potential. If the Model 3 expansion fails, it could severely impact the company.