Executive Team Profiles

Thierry Lazerand

Director of Marketing

As Director of Marketing, Lazerand manages short and long term strategic and tactical marketing plans, platform management and marketing communication. He joined Plasma-Therm in January 2010 with 30 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, spanning from process engineering, technical marketing and business development roles. Lazerand holds a master’s degree in material science and an MBA degree.

Jim Pollack

Jim Pollock

Executive Vice President of Sales and Service

Pollock began working for Plasma-Therm in January 1979 and was on the team that developed Plasma-Therm's earliest plasma processing equipment. In 1996 he left Plasma-Therm to further his career in semiconductor-related capital equipment design, marketing, and business management. Upon returning in 2001 to Plasma-Therm, then owned by Unaxis (Oerlikon), he held the post of business unit manager, and then became the St. Petersburg site manager for Oerlikon. In January 2009 he became EVP of Sales for Plasma-Therm LLC. Pollock studied mechanical engineering at Drexel University.


Russ Westerman

Executive Vice President of Technology

As EVP of Technology, Westerman oversees all technical operations at Plasma-Therm. Westerman joined Plasma-Therm in 1996 and became CTO and one of the four managing partners in January 2009. Previously, he oversaw Plasma-Therm’s R&D efforts as head of product development. He has authored and coauthored more than 30 publications and 10 patents in various aspects of semiconductor processing. Westerman holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech, a master's in chemical engineering from University of Illinois, and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. Westerman has been a member of the CS MANTECH Technical Programming Committee since 2004 and is an active member of the Society of Vacuum Coaters and the American Vacuum Society.

Bob Conte

Director of Operations

Conte joined Plasma-Therm in August 2014 as Director of Operations, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and leading Lean manufacturing transformations. He is an expert in state-of-the-art manufacturing methods and has expertise in automation, machining, and metal fabrication, as well as in operational excellence initiatives including Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, and Value Stream Mapping. He previously managed operations at several U.S. manufacturing firms. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New York University and an MBA from the University of Connecticut.

Grace Smoker

Grace Smoker

Director of Human Resources

As Director of HR, Smoker is responsible for providing leadership and guidance in the development and administration of human resource policies, programs, and practices. Smoker came to Plasma-Therm in November 2012 as Senior Human Resources Manager and was promoted to Director of Human Resources in June 2013. She has more than 13 years of experience in human resources and IT services management, risk management, and strategic business partnering. She earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification in 2012. Smoker has been a member of the Society for Human Resource Management since 2001, and an active member of Suncoast Human Resource Management Association (Suncoast HR), since 2001.


Abdul Lateef

Abdul Lateef

Chief Executive Officer

Lateef joined Plasma-Therm in 1998 as a project manager leading the PVD product development effort. He advanced to roles as Applications Lab Manager, Principal Scientist, and Head of the Etch Business Unit. In 2005, Lateef became a Senior Project Manager in Oerlikon's corporate office in Switzerland, where he focused on operational restructuring of various divisions. Lateef later led the MBO process, which re-established the Plasma-Therm brand, at which time he assumed the CEO role. With more than 20 years of experience in the semiconductor equipment and process market, Lateef is also co-author on a patent and several published papers covering multiple technologies. Prior to joining Plasma-Therm, Lateef spent several years at Sputtered Films Inc. as a process engineer. He serves on the Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Council and the St. Petersburg College Advisory Committee, and is a leadership coach at the University of Tampa. Lateef has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska, and an MBA from the University of Florida.


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