Mike Vaishnav joined us recently as CFO and Corporate Secretary, bringing 30+ years of experience and accomplishments at prominent Silicon Valley tech firms to Kateeva. We asked him to tell us more about his background and his aspirations as Kateeva’s new finance chief. Enjoy the read.
KBS: Tell us about your background
MV: Before I do, let me express my sincere gratitude to my predecessor, Mary Loomas. Thanks to her 3-year leadership as CFO, I inherited a well-managed department. It is a privilege to take over from where she left off.
I grew up in India, and after earning degrees in Accounting, Business Management and Law, I began exploring my career opportunities. As a Green Card holder, the US was an obvious choice, especially since my parents were already there. My first job in finance was at LSI Logic where I found that my high ambition and appetite for hard work and new challenges was satisfied and rewarded. From there, I was fortunate to work at successful companies like eBay, Solectron, Synnex, and others. Over 30+ years, my finance remit was broad – from driving more than three dozen M&A transactions – several with valuations exceeding US$1 billion – to managing finance functions spread across 20+ countries.
KBS: What drew you to Kateeva & what excites you about your new role?
MV: Great timing for that question! It’s Display Week 2021 – the global showcase for the latest in displays. Dazzling product debuts and news from Samsung, LG Display, AUO, and others continue to exemplify the innovation that defines the industry. Kateeva’s enabling role in the innovation was a big factor in my decision to join the company.
The technology is in a class of its own. No surprise, since Kateeva pioneered the first inkjet printers engineered for OLED mass production and continues to lead in OLED TFE. Today virtually every high-end smartphone features an OLED screen produced with a Kateeva tool.
That said, industries evolve at blinding speed. And yesterday’s breakthrough is just that unless it is followed fast with new innovations. This brings me to the high-caliber expertise at Kateeva – a big attraction for new employees. Our people are known for applying an “innovation mindset” to future technology roadmaps. As new display fabs go online, Kateeva engineers are already anticipating the mass-production imperatives for customers’ next-generation display products, then working to develop new printer solutions to address technical challenges.
Finally, the culture at Kateeva is a big draw. Years ago, Kateeva employees defined the company’s “Spirit” as “Fearlessly taking on challenges that matter”. The spirit became the culture and it endures to this day. It embodies the ingenuity, perseverance, resilience, and optimism that prevails at the company.
KBS: How will you help drive growth for Kateeva?
MV: The CFO role used to be primarily accounting, reporting, and compliance. Today, it has a strong strategic leadership component. Because guiding profitable growth calls for more than fluency with numbers, it requires entrepreneurship, as well as shrewd allocation of resources, tight interdepartmental collaboration, and consistent execution. That is my modus operandi.
Strong interdepartmental collaboration is a feature at Kateeva. In fact, I found that the spirit that drives our external partnerships is the same one that fuels productive cross-functional activities at Kateeva. We thrive on the exchange of mutual expertise to innovate smartly and cost efficiently. It helps that Kateeva’s functional leaders are not just experts in their respective fields of hardware, print software and inks, they are business pros as well. They run their departments with a keen eye on resource efficiency and judicious spending. As a result, every Kateeva employee knows the importance and value of their individual contribution to the company, and all are committed to doing what they can to support the company’s growth and profitability.
KBS: Speaking of growth, where are the new opportunities for Kateeva?
MV: We see diverse opportunities for growth. Our customers are innovating fast to meet demand for novel displays. As they evaluate new applications to advance their display roadmaps, they are turning to Kateeva for our extensive printer expertise ranging from hardware to print software, inks, and more.
At the same time, we are expanding our product line by scaling our printers for larger substrate sizes. We earned our early success by mass-producing OLED TFE on ½ Gen 6 substrates for mobile displays. Scaling our printers lets us target Gen 8.5 substrates for TV and monitor displays, and emerging applications like RGB and color conversion.
It is an exciting time to join Kateeva. Apart from the amazing technology, great people, and opportunities for growth, it is thrilling to know that our printers enable products used by consumers every day, like smartphones, laptops, TVs, and more.