At age 15, my parents gave me the best gift imaginable—the chance to immigrate to the United States—with the hope of giving me and my three siblings a future with more opportunity than the one we had in Taiwan. This event altered the direction of my life.
Throughout high school, I excelled in math and science, and UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry seemed like the perfect fit. At Berkeley, I was exposed to an environment that was predominately male. As an Asian female, I had to adapt quickly to thrive. After many years of dedication, sacrifice, and hard work, I am now the first female to hold my current position as corporate vice president and division general manager of the Etch business unit for Applied Materials.
This past March, I celebrated my twentieth anniversary with the company. Looking back at my career, I was constantly given the challenges to develop or turn around products. Under my leadership, I consistently grew revenue and market share with high profitability for several different product groups. Management recognized my abilities; this resulted in increased scope and responsibilities.
I find it exciting to work in the semiconductor industry, navigating through fast-changing technical challenges, business environments, and customer needs. To win each business, one needs to meet not just the technical and cost requirements, but to understand the competition and customer. I enjoy this big puzzle of working with people and fixing problems. These characteristics work well for this industry, and with a company and customer base as diverse as applied Materials.
I was initially shy and introverted by nature, so it took many years of growing to hone my leadership skills. As I watched leaders I’ve worked with throughout the years, I’ve learned that it is a must to establish trust and respect with my team and colleagues in order to effectively drive the progress or change needed to achieve success.
There may not always be an answer for any given situation, but if you have an open mind and think in terms of what is best for the company, customer, or your family, you will end up on the right path to success.