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Velodyne Lidar Leadership Spotlight: Sheetal Patel
Jun 30, 2020 | By Velodyne Lidar
Women at Velodyne: Sheetal Patel, VP Human Resources
Women at Velodyne: Sheetal Patel, VP Human Resources

Sheetal Patel is an accomplished HR executive with more than 16 years of human resources experience in the high tech industry. She is Vice President of Human Resources, leading Velodyne’s entire HR function. At Velodyne, Sheetal established the infrastructure of HR and professionalized HR processes and managing people. She instituted values for the company and improved employee engagement. Sheetal has also created leadership development to address a need for stronger managers, a community for managers, and talent strategies for attracting and retaining the unique technology skills that the company requires.

Sheetal Patel, Vice President Human Resources for Velodyne Lidar
Sheetal Patel, Vice President Human Resources for Velodyne Lidar

Sheetal is very strategic and business focused, building a strong value proposition of what is different about Velodyne and why employees want to work here. She is thoughtful at listening to employees, bringing in data to better understand, asking the right questions, and adding transparency to the organization. Sheetal brings leaders and employees into problem solving to create solutions that work for the business.

Sheetal’s career began working for her family-owned business and helping build what is now one of the biggest high-quality education systems, especially for girls, in rural India. Sheetal started working alongside her uncle, mom and dad in running the company at a very young age. She loved the HR side of the business, hiring employees, training, and motivating them.

We checked in with Sheetal to learn more about how HR is helping the company reach its goals.

Q: Let’s start the pandemic: How do you think our team has responded to the challenges of working remotely due COVID-19?

Sheetal: Keeping all employees safe has been Velodyne’s top priority. Our employees globally have been outstanding in rallying and supporting each other during this difficult time. Our executive leaders and the HR team are regularly checking with all our internal departments to ensure we are connected with everyone and to be sure all employees have our support. The HR team has also been keeping in touch with HR leaders at other companies to learn from them what are best practices that have been adopted by employees and employers around the world. We have worked closely with employees and listened to their needs to implement work practices that help support work-life balance.

A few of Velodyne's women leaders, pictured left to right: Michelle Esau, VP Finance and Controller, Marta Hall, CMO, and Sheetal Patel, VP HR
A few of Velodyne’s women leaders, pictured left to right: Michelle Esau, VP Finance and Controller, Marta Hall, CMO, and Sheetal Patel, VP HR

Q: Can you discuss some HR initiatives to continue to advance Velodyne’s culture?

Sheetal: I am passionate about creating diverse and inclusive work environments. We are committed to having open, transparent communications with all employees. We work to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to be heard. For example, we held all-hands meetings and check-in meetings throughout shelter in place in California to ensure we all remained connected at all times. We are also interacting with staff through surveys and always look for fun ways to engage. Employee conference call bingo and our Slack club for sharing recipes have been recent hits with our teams. We are continuing to listen to employees to help maintain an environment they want to work in.

Sheetal Patel, VP HR at Velodyne Lidar
Sheetal Patel, VP HR at Velodyne Lidar

Q: How is HR helping team managers advance their leadership skills?

Sheetal: We empower our managers to coach and mentor their staff. We have created various training plans for managers to help them further build their leadership skills. We especially want to continue to support our managers in how to lead teams successfully during the uncertain times we are going through right now.

Q: What’s one “fun fact” that most people don’t know about the HR team?

Sheetal: The HR team is very goofy. We enjoy playing fun pranks on each other as practical jokes. For instance, when someone goes away on leave, they are quite likely to return to a desk that has been completely reorganized or moved out. The team loves Thai food and usually for team meetings Thai is the first choice, including a challenge to see who can eat the most spicy food! We have one team member who loves to try new recipes, such as baking a buttermilk pie or 20-pound brisket. Another HR team member loves to grow all different varieties of fruits and nuts, like kiwi, passion fruit, mulberries, and walnuts!!

Sheetal Patel dressed in traditional Indian clothing for her dance group

Q: Please share a little about your life outside the work world.

Sheetal: Whenever possible, I spend time with my family. I have two boys who play competitive soccer, keeping me and my husband busy during weekdays with practices and long drives for games over weekends. I do look forward to watching them play and cheering for them, which allows me to spend time with family.

I enjoy classical and folk Indian dancing and am part of a dance group. I also love exploring new cuisines and recipes when I find time from my work schedule. I love light beers and keep looking out for places serving craft beer from microbreweries to enjoy with friends.

Pani Puri, a popular street food in India, is one of Sheetal’s favorite foods and recipes. Click here for a recipe with step-by-step instructions! Image credit: Veg Recipes of India

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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