September 18, 2023

Nikola’s latest hire puts its SPAC sponsors in full control


The hiring of Mary Chan as chief operating officer at Nikola Corp. puts the key players in the special purpose acquisition company that brought the electric truck maker public in charge from the boardroom to the factory.

When Chan takes on the newly created role on Oct. 9, executives of the SPAC sponsor VectorIQ will occupy the chair, CEO and COO roles. She was president, COO and a managing partner at VectorIQ II, a follow-on SPAC that refunded investor money following the bursting of the SPAC bubble of 2020-2021.

“I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Mary for over a decade, and I cannot think of a more qualified individual to assume the role of COO at Nikola,” Nikola President and CEO Steve Girsky said in a news release Monday.

Girsky became CEO on Aug. 4 when Michael Lohscheller resigned the position and his board seat for family reasons. Girsky had recruited Lohscheller to the post of Nikola president in February 2022. Lohscheller became CEO in November. Girsky previously recruited Lohscheller as chief financial officer at Adam Opel in Europe.

When the board appointed Girsky as CEO to replace Lohscheller, it elevated Steve Schindler to the board chair that Girsky had occupied since September 2020. Schindler was CFO at VectorIQ where Girsky was CEO.

Chan joined Girsky at VectoIQ after working for him at General Motors where he was vice chairman and she was president of the global connected consumer group. Chan oversaw connected infotainment products and OnStar broadband data services.

Girsky streamlining decision making at Nikola

Girsky is streamlining decision making at Nikola, which recently gained financial flexibility through the doubling of authorized shares. The ability to register and use new equity should help Nikola scale the production of hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks now in production. The company expects to begin customer deliveries by the end of this month or in early October.

Chan will oversee the company’s engineering, program, product, supply chain and manufacturing teams. Several executives have left Nikola, some during a June restructuring in which 270 employees were laid off. Global head of manufacturing Mark Duchesne and Nikola Energy President Carey Mendes have both departed.

“Mary brings a solid understanding of business, combined with extensive experience in technology and transportation, spanning both engineering and management,” Girsky said. “Her expertise will be a tremendous asset to the Nikola team.”

Related articles:

Nikola gets 3rd CEO in a year with Steve Girsky taking over

Nikola’s energy president resigns

Nikola cuts 270 jobs as cash to survive runs low

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.


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