Leadership Team

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Alex Balkanski

President and CEO

Alex Balkanski is an industry leader with a demonstrated record of delivering growth in revenue and profits in tandem with outstanding customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Picarro, Alex was a managing partner at Benchmark Capital and served on the board of directors at Picarro. Alex led C-Cube and DiviCom, two pioneering companies that drove the MPEG standard to dominance in consumer electronics and broadcasting. Alex founded C-Cube in 1988. In 1994, he took the company public, and in 1998 he orchestrated C-Cube's acquisition of DiviCom. Previously, he was a board member of Ambarella (AMBA), Decru (acquired by Network Appliance), Entrisphere (acquired by Ericsson), and Infinera (INFN). Alex holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from Harvard University, as well as a B.S. from Harvard College.

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Joel Avrunin

Vice President, Environmental Sales and Marketing

Joel leads the worldwide Environmental sales and marketing team, bringing a twenty year background in metrology, commercial leadership, and team building to Picarro. He loves working with his customers, and seeing the amazing science they are able to discover with Picarro instrumentation. Joel's experience includes over a decade in sales and management at Danaher/Fortive (through Tektronix subsidiary). He has a strong technical background, and before his commercial roles he worked as an analog/RF design engineer.  When not working, he enjoys running and hiking, and is always looking for new running routes when he’s traveling. Joel earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and his MBA in Organizational Leadership from Towson University. 

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Kevin Liu

Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Semiconductor

Kevin has 25 years of experience in business management, marketing, product development and engineering in semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. Previously, Kevin was a VP of marketing and business development in ASML's e-beam division responsible for driving revenue growth and new market penetration. Kevin received his Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics and later his master's degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford.

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Andre Bals

Managing Director, EMEA

Andre is responsible for our “Gas” business in Europe. He has founded, structured and grown the European offices since 2010, focusing on “Environment” and then on developing the European “Gas” entity. Andre has gained experience in environmental metrology since he started its own company “Omnisens”, a high-tech venture active in integrity monitoring of large energy infrastructures (downstream pipeline leak detection, offshore exploration and power cable monitoring) and eventually sold it to Prysmian group in 2021. During his startup early days he co-developed a trace gas technology for monitoring environmental and semiconductor molecular contamination. His technical background combined with an acute appetite for business development, sales and strategy has successfully led the Picarro team in Europe for now over 12 years.  Andre started his career as a consultant at Arthur Anderson in Geneva, he holds an M.A. in materials and engineering from Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne and University of California, Los Angeles. In his free time, Andre will be found sailing or skiing in the Alps.

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Yonggang He

Vice President, Systems and Hardware Engineering

Yonggang leads the product development team, as well as the systems and hardware engineering groups. He works closely with Picarro’s business units to define technology strategy, research and development priorities and execute the product development roadmap. Prior to joining Picarro, Yonggang held various senior engineering roles at NewFocus, Oclaro and LGR. Yonggang received his B.S., M.S. in physical chemistry and his Ph.D. in spectroscopy from Nanjing University and Oregon State University respectively. He was a Postdoctoral Scholar at California Technology Institute.

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Mitchell Zucker

Senior Vice President, Manufacturing

Mitchell has 25+ years of experience in semiconductor capital equipment in roles ranging from Field Service and Applications, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Operations, Business Process Optimization and Change Management. Mitchell had the great fortune to work for some of the best companies in the capital equipment segment including KLA Instruments, Applied Materials and most recently Onto Innovation. He received a BS Electronic Engineering Technology degree from DeVry University and his MBA from Santa Clara University.

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Jeff Braggin

Chief Quality Officer

Jeff brings extensive experience in advanced Quality Management Systems for global technology-based businesses. His knowledge includes specialty chemical manufacturing, electronics, semiconductor wafer fabrication equipment, photonics and lasers, telecommunications/data transmission, and alternative power generation. He was appointed to three terms as a Board Member of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners, receiving a U.S. Department of Commerce Certificate of Appreciation "For outstanding service to the Nation as a member of the 1996, 1997, 1998 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners." Jeff has a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University. He is also a graduate of Executive Management Programs at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. 

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Betsy Kais

Chief Financial Officer

Betsy has over 25 years of experience managing finance and accounting operations for technology companies. Prior to joining Picarro, she was Vice President of Finance at Talari Networks, a private producer of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). She started her career in the audit practice at Price Waterhouse, and subsequently held management positions in finance at Hewlett Packard's printer and personal computer operations. She spent ten years as an independent consultant providing a wide range of finance and accounting services to technology clients, both venture backed and public companies. Betsy earned her B.S. in business administration with a concentration in accounting from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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Kalpana Shah

Vice President, Human Resources

Kalpana is focused to create and build Picarro’s culture of Doing the Right Thing. She is leading the people strategy to promote employee success and developing and caring for employees to help employees do their best work. She manages talent acquisition, talent development, employee experience, business partnership, learning & development, total rewards – benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity. The strategic alignment of these functions ensures holistic care for the well-being of Picarro’s employees. Before Picarro, Kalpana held leadership positions and built successful human resources functions at small and mid-sized private and public technology companies like Datameer, Good Technology (now Blackberry), Nanometrics (now Onto Innovation). Kalpana received her B.S. in Communications and Photography from Mumbai, India, and HR Management from UCSC.