15 questions with Veeco Instruments
Deb Wasser is senior vice president of IR and corporate communications at Veeco Instruments, and a former winner of the best small-cap IRO award at the IR Magazine Awards – US.
1. How long have you been in IR?
My entire career: more than 20 years.
2. What did you do before your current role?
I joined Dewe Rogerson right out of college. I was the fourth employee in the New York office and, when I left for Veeco in 1997, we were more than 80 people.
3. What are your qualifications?
I have a joint degree in business and communications, which was a great entry into the IR field.
4. How is your team set up?
I run IR and marcom, so my small team is responsible for all global messaging. I am the only full-time IR executive. We are lean but have a broad reach.
5. Do you receive support from any external IR firms?
I have used several excellent IR firms on projects including perception audits and crisis communications, Supplementing internal resources with experts as needed.
6. How many roadshows and investor conferences do you take part in each year?
We are covered by 20-plus sell-side analysts and get inundated with requests for non-deal roadshows and conferences. We generally do 16-20 conferences and at least a dozen non-deal roadshow days per year.
7. Do you hold investor days?
We have held investor days for new technology announcements or product launches.
8. Do you use social media?
We are dipping our toe in the water by posting news, highlights of conference calls and IR events.
9. What is the most popular question from investors/analysts now?
We are the world’s top supplier of the equipment used to make LEDs, and there is great debate about how much of our equipment will be needed as the world converts from traditional lighting to LED. It’s an exciting but unpredictable space; investors are always trying to figure out where we are in the investment cycle.
10. What’s been your biggest challenge over the last year?
We underwent a review of our revenue recognition practices from November 2012 to November 2013, and were unable to report financials. It was costly and distracting for the firm and our investors, but we had no restatement of historical
financials and avoided a de-listing. We have received high marks for our openness during the crisis.
11. What’s your favorite part of IR?
I love the two-way sharing of information and the spectacularly smart people I interact with.
12. And your least favorite?
Occasionally I deal with pretty aggressive investors who come to meetings with their minds already made up – and attitudes to match.
13. What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I love traveling and spending time with my husband and our two teenage girls.
14. How is the IR role changing?
It’s been fun to see it become such a strategic role.
15. If you could pass on one IR lesson, what would it be?
No matter how bad the crisis, you can get through it. Don’t crawl under a rock! Call your friends in IR and get advice. Ask tough questions and encourage your team to keep communication lines open.