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Velodyne Lidar Leadership Spotlight: Michelle Esau
Mar 23, 2020 | By Velodyne Lidar
Women at Velodyne: Michelle Esau, VP, Finance and Controller
Women at Velodyne: Michelle Esau, VP, Finance and Controller

Michelle Esau, Vice President, Finance and Controller, is responsible for Velodyne Lidar global accounting operations. Michelle has more than 20 years of experience working in corporate finance, and we are excited to share a Q&A with Michelle as part of our Leadership Spotlight series here on the Velodyne Lidar blog.

Michelle’s job includes building a high-performance team, setting of controls to mitigate risk, enhancing accuracy of the financial statements, and maintaining an adequate system of accounting records at Velodyne. She plays an integral role in maintaining the regular processes of supporting business in both customer and vendor functions, paying bills and employees, submitting regulatory filings, and more.

Michelle Esau, Vice President, Finance and Controller for Velodyne Lidar

Prior to Velodyne, Michelle was Business Unit Controller at Syngenta for close to three years. She has also held finance positions at Lumenis, Novellus Systems, and Visx.

We sat down with Michelle to discuss how the finance team supports the Velodyne business and to learn a bit more about Michelle.

Michelle Esau of Velodyne Lidar

Why is being a strong business partner important to Finance Department success?

Businesses today need to address risks, respond to new opportunities, read contracts, and understand the manufacturing operating process. Finance people are required to be forward thinkers so that we can support business decisions. 

I see finance people as the interpreter between executive management and business functions. The executive team sets up the goals and the business functions execute it. Finance people need to collaborate with the business function to ensure that top management’s decisions are appropriately executed.

Can you share your vision for the Finance Department?

I absolutely LOVE our finance department! I have an excellent finance team. They are responsible, professional, driven, and kind. We worked together to achieve our goal of implementing controls in many areas. Some of these include order-to-cash process, procure-to-pay process, inventory count process, and financial planning and analysis. In addition, the finance team is usually heavily involved in contract review together with sales and the legal department. 

Our revenue team is very flexible in re-prioritizing their tasks to support contract review as well as diligently performing research from revenue guidance to ensure Velodyne can maximize revenue opportunities while satisfying customer’s requests. Our accounts payable team takes extra steps to support the procurement team to ensure all vendors are paid on time while the Company’s control policies are followed. Our payroll and stock administrative department not only run the bi-weekly paycheck for employees, they actively and professionally answer employee inquiries as well as produce and file reports to meet statutory requirements.

The finance team not only takes ownership for our own tasks but is also proud to support and provide service to the rest of the company, customers, and vendors.

Vice President, Finance and Controller for Velodyne Lidar, Michelle Esau

Why do enjoy working at Velodyne?

I have been with Velodyne for a little over four years – there is never a dull moment! It is fascinating to witness the growth and transformation of the company. Under the leadership of David Hall and Anand Gopalan, the company’s culture promotes innovation and creativity, which is one of the key factors that keeps Velodyne as a leader in the lidar industry. My colleagues are a group of creative and innovative hard workers. I am very fortunate to be a part of a company that cares and delivers solutions to improve the safety of the world.

Please share a little about your life outside Velodyne.

I enjoy spending time with my family. I have two girls, a sixteen-year-old and a ten-and-a-half-year-old.  My older daughter loves hip-hop dance and is a beautiful dancer. My younger daughter loves taekwondo. She is a senior blue belt now and is determined to become a black belt one day. Hiking, reading, and running are some of our favorite family activities. My husband and my older daughter are planning a trip to climb Mt. Whitney this summer!

About Velodyne Lidar

Velodyne provides smart, powerful lidar solutions for autonomy and driver assistance. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Velodyne is known worldwide for its portfolio of breakthrough lidar sensor technologies. Velodyne’s Founder, David Hall, invented real-time surround view lidar systems in 2005 as part of Velodyne Acoustics. Mr. Hall’s invention revolutionized perception and autonomy for automotive, new mobility, mapping, robotics, and security. Velodyne’s high-performance product line includes a broad range of sensing solutions, including the cost-effective Puck™, the versatile Ultra Puck™, the autonomy-advancing Alpha Prime™, the ADAS-optimized Velarray™ and the groundbreaking software for driver assistance, Vella™.

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