Melvin Lai is a San Franciscan Bay Area native and joined Silicon Foundry in March 2022 as an analyst. Previously, he worked at PwC in their M&A consulting practice and was actively involved while at university as executive administrator of the UCSB Undergraduate Accounting Society, finance officer at Associated Students of UC Santa Barbara, and internal operations coordinator in the UCSB Office of the Controller. In this interview we talked with Melvin about his story, his interest in corporate innovation through M&A as it relates to environmentalism, and his new position in the Foundry’s family!
Melvin, how are your first months in Foundry going on?
It has been a fast moving experience since my first day, but I love how this has given me an opportunity to make an immediate impact on different projects and establish relationships with the Foundry members just shortly after joining the team. It’s taken me some time pivoting my working style from working at a large enterprise to now operating within a leaner, tight-nit company, but I’m grateful for my teammates in helping me acclimate to this change by encouraging me to share my ideas, ask questions and explore new approaches to different issues. I am finally starting to settle in and am excited for what is ahead, particularly because I know that my best work comes when I am comfortable thinking and sharing my ideas freely.
Which expertise did you bring to our innovation advisory?
My background is in M&A deal consulting from my time at PwC, and I understand that several of Foundry’s members have come to us for assistance navigating the M&A markets with the reopening of the economy and many businesses having cash accumulated ready to be deployed for deals. My familiarity with the M&A processes – from initial deal discussions through due diligence and signing negotiations – paired with my understanding of market trends in deal activity will be useful assets to our innovation advisory and our members. As a licensed CPA I also bring a well-rounded understanding of financial accounting that adds to the diversity of professional expertise among the Foundry team.
What did you learn most about your previous working experience?
I am grateful to have begun my professional career directly out of university at one of the big four consulting firms. I was able to learn from and be mentored by business leaders and subject matter specialists across different industries and become comfortable in the midst of challenging engagements. The ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously and deliver value for clients are attributes I carry with me from my time at PwC. I still have a lot of areas I would like to improve on when it comes to time and load management, but I have gained a great understanding of what I am capable of from my time at PwC collaborating with teams from Fortune 100 companies, private equity firms and venture capital funds.
What does it mean to work in the Bay Area?
The Bay Area has a deep history being at the forefront of two major aspects of culture: technological advancement and social activism. The intersection of these two areas in one place creates an environment where conventional ways of thinking are always challenged and people are encouraged to always be open to what is possible. This spirit of innovation seeps into all aspects of life in Silicon Valley and the opportunity to meet and work with such like minded people on a regular basis keeps things fresh and exciting!
You are passionate about environment. How do you link it with the business area?
I have always had a deep affinity towards being outdoors, and this has developed in me a passion for the preservation and restoration of the environment, both in my personal and professional life. I strongly believe a crucial component to environmental progress is the involvement of businesses and organizations that can leverage their influence in their respective industries to create substantive, holistic change across sectors for a greener future. That is why I am super excited to be collaborating with our members to prepare and innovate for this future, whether that be by advising members in identifying and investing in start-ups that offer solutions to environmental issues, or helping them explore ways to establish closed-loop systems in their existing supply chains. Having a purpose-driven profession is what motivates my best work.