Meet Stefan Krause, A driving force in the world of EVs

Meet Stefan Krause, A driving force in the world of EVs

Leaders need to have conviction in themselves and their employees. Without it, a compliance mindset can creep in. Seeking compliance is a sign of a “weak manager,” says Stefan Krause, Chairman & CEO at MOOV

Throughout his career with BMW and in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, Stefan has built innovative management systems that promote a culture of trust and empowerment among his teams.

Stefan was born and raised in Colombia and educated at a German school. He explains that one of the skills he learned in Colombia was improvisation, which has stayed with him throughout his professional career. 

During his 20-year tenure at BMW, Stefan broke out of the leadership mold and found new ways to foster innovation. When he moved to California, he broke into the EV industry with a role as CFO/COO of electric car startup Faraday Future. A few years later, he and some other Faraday employees launched a new EV company called Canoo. Stefan has since left Canoo and continues his mission in the world of mobility with MOOV, a very different kind of company.

In this episode of Finding Gravitas, Stefan discusses the need for trust and conviction within the workplace. He believes that many traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have a "compliance culture" instead, causing them to lose employees to more progressive startups. 

As a leader, Stefan sees people as inherently good. “In the end, human beings want to do the right thing and want to be successful,” he says. 

“At the end of the day … It’s not the money on your bank account that counts,” Stefan adds. “It’s what you were able to move and push forward in terms of making the world a better place.”

Stefan and host Jan Griffiths talk about his career journey, his transition to the EV space, and how leaders can use conviction to drive innovation in the workplace.

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Stefan’s leadership experience working for BMW and Deutsche Bank as well as his journey within the EV industry at Faraday and Canoo
  • How small changes in the way we manage people can create significant differences in innovation
  • Being a leader in good times and bad, and what it takes to be what he calls a "bad-weather sailor"
  • Why believing that people are inherently good means less time managing the bad apples 
  • Why trust is the best means for innovation 
  • How the startup culture in California is causing people to leave traditional automotive companies for EV companies 
  • Stefan's advice to people working in traditional OEMs and those just beginning their careers 

Featured Guest: Stefan Krause

🚙  What he does: Stefan is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in leadership roles at blue-chip companies. After spending 20 years driving innovation at BMW, he has since become a leader within the EV industry. He is currently the Chairman & CEO at MOOV

💡On Gravitas: “I would say it has something to do with how people react to you and what you’re trying to do … Gravitas, for me, is also how you deal with people, how empathetic you are to people.”

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[5:18] Origin story: Stefan explains how growing up in Colombia with German parents shaped the unique business ideas that ultimately made him a successful entrepreneur. 

[8:06] Leadership in good times and bad times: Stefan details what he learned while working for 20 years at BMW, and how he later survived the “longest doomsday of my life” in 2008 at Deutsche Bank. 

[11:10] The start of the EV industry: After working at Faraday Future in California, Stefan started Canoo with a team of Faraday employees. He shines light on why he has since decided to leave Canoo to focus on his own business.

[16:13] Break the rules: Rules are very important in German culture. However, while working at BMW Europe, Stefan found a way to speak out, change the system and foster innovation. 

[22:46] People are good: In his leadership roles, Stefan has noticed that “the same people in different systems work completely differently.” He also acknowledges that you need to take risks to succeed.

[24:36] Empower and trust employees: Jan and Stefan discuss how the culture in the automotive industry often doesn’t allow for mistakes. Stefan points out that human nature means mistakes happen, and mistakes mean innovation. 

[30:51] EV culture in California: When building Canoo, Stefan decided to scrap the idea of titles and other “distractions.” Instead, he opted for titles that simply describe what each team member was in charge of.

[35:49] Compliance vs. conviction: People are leaving traditional OEMs for startups because "OEMs don’t allow them to innovate,” Stefan argues. Jan says that to change workplace culture, leaders have to ask themselves: “Are you looking for compliance, or are you looking for conviction?” 

[42:45] The ultimate automotive industry question: Stefan shares his advice for traditional OEMs and what it means to “fire your current customers.”

[48:11] On Gravitas: In terms of leadership, Stefan feels that gravitas is “how you deal with people, and how empathetic you are to people.”

[51:57] Advice for Gen Z: Stefan offers four points of advice for those just starting in their careers: Network, embrace change, keep your curiosity, and make the world a better place.