SpaceX’s HR guy talks about corporate culture

Image: Brian Bjelde at SpaceX
Brian Bjelde, vice president of human resources at SpaceX, sent along this picture of himself in front of a launch photo to verify his identity for a Reddit AMA session. (Credit: Brian Bjelde via Reddit)

SpaceX’s engineers are pursuing the high-flying goal of getting people to Mars, and by some accounts, the workload can lead to high levels of stress and even lawsuits. Today, the company’s vice president of human resources addressed the issue directly during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.

Brian Bjelde, who was trained as an aerospace engineer and is No. 14 on SpaceX’s employee list, also explained why the California-based company isn’t hiring astronauts right now. He shed light on the corporate culture that billionaire founder Elon Musk has created – and urged Redditors to apply for jobs, including positions available in Seattle.

The workload question was the one most likely to put Bjelde on guard: In his biography of Musk, Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Ashlee Vance refers to stressed-out employees at SpaceX and Tesla Motors – including a Tesla employee who supposedly received an angry email from Musk when he missed a company meeting to witness the birth of his child. (Musk said that claim was “total BS and hurtful … I would never do that.”)

On the flip side, Seattle-based PayScale reports that SpaceX employees see their jobs as extraordinarily meaningful (and yes, extraordinarily stressful). The company ranked No. 1 among 18 well-known tech companies in both those categories, with Tesla at No. 2.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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