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Michelle Lai

Michelle Lai

Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Member since July 23, 2017
A Wharton graduate with experience working on $11 billion of deals in the Asia-Pacific region, Michelle combines financial expertise with hands-on experience at a $50 million venture-backed startup. She's worked on M&A and consulting projects with leading firms like Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Heidrick & Struggles, MetLife, Neil Pryde, and Jardine Matheson. She joined Toptal to solve problems alongside smart, driven management teams.
Michelle is now available for hire
Career Highlights
Case studies
Industry Expertise
  • Fintech
Other Expertise
  • Digital Health
  • Forecasting
  • JavaScript
  • Leveraged Buyout Model
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
  • Strategy
  • Term Sheet Negotiations
  • Managing Director
    2017 - PRESENT
    Liberaid Limited
    • Worked on a digital health strategy project with one of Asia's largest conglomerates.
    • Conducted alternative data strategy research for a data-driven private equity fund.
    • Advised and executed an M&A project for a leading health clinic.
    Focus areas: Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Financial Management, Financial Advisory, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), Budgeting, Health Tech, Insurtech, Fintech
  • Chief Strategy Officer
    2016 - 2017
    • Created investor decks and financial projections and quarterbacked the investor due diligence for a successful fundraising round of $40 million. Wrote detailed investor updates following the investment.
    • Developed cash-flow budgeting models and improved each cash position through working capital management. Previously, the company had poor budgeting processes and so, when growth spiked, it was constrained by its ability to project cash flows.
    • Wrote detailed management reports with analytics to assist in managerial decision making. Previously, the management reports were Excel-based and had excessive detail, making it hard for management to review progress and plan effectively.
    • Reduced the risk of a stock outage by migrating the company onto a cloud inventory system (TradeGecko).
    • Upgraded the accounting function by moving onto cloud software (QuickBooks Online), hiring the first in-house accountant, and transitioning to a Big Four accounting firm for the company's first thorough audit.
    • Managed a $2 million product launch, working across internal teams and the client which was a large financial institution.
    • Quarterbacked the process of setting up a corporate entity in China in the form of a wholly foreign-owned enterprise ("WOFE"), and obtained an Internet Content Provider ("ICP") license in a record speed of fewer than two months.
    • Worked directly with the CEO to grow the company from 20 employees to 70 over the course of a year.
    Focus areas: Fundraising, Financial Projections, Cash Flow Forecasting, Investor Decks, Revenue & Expense Projections, Investor Communications, Competitive Analysis
  • Chief Financial Officer
    2015 - 2015
    One Earth Designs
    • Migrated from desktop-based accounting (Quickbooks) to cloud accounting system (Xero) which dramatically reduced accounting and reporting costs.
    • Cleaned up legacy accounts where four different entities were managed by two different accountants which had resulted in misreporting and double-booking.
    • Managed an entire production run of a complex product (with a 100-part bill of materials) with a factory in Dongguan, China.
    • Restructured outstanding debt obligations to extend the runway by one year. A tranche of convertible notes had come due, but the company was in no position to pay them down; as such, I negotiated an extension so that creditors would revisit the situation in a year.
    • Created a cashflow forecast model to manage the cash balance, avoiding several scenarios where the company might have reached a $0 balance. Negotiated payment terms with four key suppliers to support the objective of reducing working capital.
    Focus areas: Cash Flow Forecasting, Financial Projections, Manufacturing, Debt Restructuring, Financial Reporting, Audit Management, Investor Communications, Fundraising, Reasonable Compensation Calculation, Corporate Restructuring
  • Investment Professional
    2011 - 2014
    The Longreach Group
    • Handled the sell-side auction for the firm's largest investment which amounted to $1.3 billion by writing the investment memorandum; this involved managing the virtual data room, structuring tailored deals, drafting term sheets, and more.
    • Restructured $400 million of debt. Several tranches of leveraged buyout (LBO) loans had come due and the company had to restructure the loan despite being close to breaching several covenants. A series of negotiation tactics had to be employed to complete the deal.
    • Created fundraising pitch decks and private placement memorandums for a new $400 million fund.
    • Conducted complex IRR analysis for a deal involving more than 20 investors, nine entities, and two different types of currencies.
    • Implemented LBO analyses and created comprehensive investment committee presentations for companies in the retail and business services space.
    Focus areas: Private Equity, Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Return Analysis, Investment Portfolio Management, Fundraising, Investor Communications, Investor Decks, Investor Relations, Leveraged Buyout Model, Deferred Tax
  • Associate, M&A
    2007 - 2011
    Credit Suisse | Citigroup
    • Executed $3 billion of M&A deals involving brand name financial institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, including Temasek Holdings, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, DBS Group, ANZ Bank, and AIG Taiwan.
    • Built financial models on discounted cash flow, leveraged buyouts, merger consequences, and investment returns (i.e. IRR).
    • Standardized the comparables template for the team across seven different countries, building a detailed FactSet-based template adjusting for in-market idiosyncrasies (e.g., deferred tax assets, analyst coverage, and reporting cadence).
    • Managed data rooms and due diligence processes for the following: an Asia asset carve out from six countries for a UK bank (buy-side, $550 million), a leading bank in Indonesia (buy-side, $2.4 billion), AIG Taiwan (buy-side, $2 billion), an asset manager in Singapore (sell-side, $100 million), a high growth bank in Indonesia (sell-side), and a US insurer in Malaysia (buy-side);
    • Built detailed financial models of companies and projects, including return analysis, sensitivity analysis, and valuation.
    • Developed financial analyses for deferred tax asset (DTA) utilization trades for companies in Switzerland and Taiwan.
    Focus areas: Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), Capital Markets, Equity Financing, Leveraged Buyout Model, Financial Modeling, Three Statement Operating Model, Valuation Modeling, Transaction Modeling, Comparable Company Analysis
  • Certified in Full-stack Web Development
    2017 - 2017
    General Assembly - Singapore
  • Bachelor's degree in Economics
    2004 - 2007
    University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences - Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Bachelor's degree in Finance
    2004 - 2007
    The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Full Stack Web Development
    General Assembly
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