Torc Robotics recently named Axel Gern, a long-time leader in truck automation, to head its recently opened Torc Europe GmbH engineering facility in Stuttgart, Germany. Gern has been named senior vice president of engineering and managing director for Torc Europe, and is in the process of building out his team of European Torc’rs. Read what he’s looking for, and how he’s looking to extend the Torc team overseas.
To start things off, it was just announced that you’ve made the jump from Daimler Truck to Torc. Why did you make that decision?
Axel: First, I believe in Torc’s mission and technology. Second, I’m completely convinced that if you want to build technology such as this – on par with a manned mission to Mars – you need to go with the hustling small guy to have that kind of energy. Because we don’t have a lot of time to get there.
We need to hustle. It’s a quick turnaround environment that you need. As soon as we have an idea, we need quick cooperation. In bigger companies, that can take a lot of time. And you typically have to work through silos and such. In a smaller company, you can easily do more, much more easily. We can do that in Torc.
You’re building out the team in Europe, and Torc Europe is going to become its own place and culture. What are you trying to create and embody as the foundation of Torc Europe?
Axel: Personally, I absolutely love the American culture and the American way of working. I spent four and a half years in Silicon Valley, and I built up a team there.
Americans are highly motivated, and they are looking for progress, they want to make progress. They are eager to develop and be successful. So it’s some American way, and some European way. It’s basically trying to build out that culture, that we are meeting friends in the office that can develop together, succeed together.
Torc is a great team. And we have to build on that. If you would ask me, okay, do I need to hire the rockstar or the team player? I will always take the team player. It’s Torc’s hungry and humble and people smart way and motto.
Our holidays, our vacation time is not that different. Typically, the U.S. will have a lot of people off during your Fourth of July week, right? And August is very vacation heavy in Europe overall. We will communicate and pass off the work, and then catch up. There will be no need to worry about a slowdown.
As so many workplaces ease into a remote-as-an-option mentality post-Covid, how will Torc Europe be expected to adapt?
Axel: We’ll be working as part of the whole team, just getting the hours in before the U.S. is up. But for all intents and purposes we will have a “work from anywhere” kind of kind of mentality, not the nine-to-five, but let’s everyone pitch in and figure out what we’re doing.
I would quote Michael Fleming: This is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a huge opportunity, and we have to do it right. We can build an eco-system in Stuttgart, like that of a startup that is doing the best technology work, that has the best team, and the best atmosphere.
This is going to, basically, skyrocket. And we can build it. Who knows Torc in Europe, right? We must think about how to communicate in a way that when anybody says autonomous… they think, “Oh, Torc.”
That will take time. It is a marathon, not a sprint, but we are still going to come in first.
Interested in jobs in Stuttgart, Germany? You can find all open Torc positions on Glassdoor.