Q&A: William Watts '09, Market Lead at Tesla

Monday, Feb 25, 2019

William Watts

Will explains his role Tesla and shares career advice Princeton students.

What exactly does a market lead - charging infrastructure do?

I run a small team that manages Tesla's charging infrastructure for the New York area. This consists of analyzing data to see how people are using and will use their cars, determining where fast charging stations will best serve our owners, negotiating with property owners to come to an agreement to install them, managing the legal review, designing the station itself as well as managing the construction of the station.

We also try to predict how usage patterns will change as a result of things like autonomous driving, ride sharing and more. I also oversee our Destination Charging program which is aimed at longer-stay locations like workplaces and hotels.

What advice do you have for a student contemplating a career in your field?

Mine is an oddball field. It's brand new, and there is no set career path towards it. We have people from sales, engineering, real estate and construction. That said, I think the people who tend to have a leg up in getting a job for which there is unlikely to be direct, applicable experience are the entrepreneurs. They, at the very least, have drive and have been in 'jack of all trade' roles, and are likely to be adaptable to a position that may completely change tack in a year to keep up with an evolving industry.

What experiences did you consider to be most valuable? 

I actually never did any internships, which was rare as compared to my peers. I spent my time in the machine shop working on projects that I was passionate about. I was lucky that one of those projects turned into the Boo Bicycles (a bamboo bicycle company), but I think in general following your passions is a healthy way to spend your time. If the goal is to find a job that you love, that doesn't feel like work, that you're excited to go to in the morning, I think starting with something you are passionate about tends to point you in the right direction. 

What was the most beneficial thing you learned during your career path?

I've founded three companies in the past nine years with varying levels of success, but I've never felt like it was a waste of time, even at the low points. I don't think that I would have been prepared for my current role without my entrepreneurial experience. Founding a company requires a certain level of drive and willingness to do any and all tasks that can prepare you well to take on new challenges with little guidance. When you're young the stakes aren't too high, and in the long run, it really doesn't matter if you don't have a good salary for that year you tried to start something of your own. Youth is for taking risks, and even failure is good.