Recap: WITI Women in Semiconductors - Silicon Valley - July 15, 2015

Hillary Barnhart

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Recap: WITI Women in Semiconductors - Silicon Valley - July 15, 2015

"Energizing" and "Inspiring" was how one woman described the inaugural launch of the Women in Semiconductors and Embedded Systems WIN at Semicon West in San Francisco. More than 70 women participated in this milestone event on July 15th which followed our soft launch in June, at the WITI Summit in San Jose.

Attendees connected with other women in the industry, enjoyed a fabulous luncheon and received practical advice from 5 exceptional panelists, on how to position yourself for success in an environment of organizational flux. The topic hit close to home, given the sinusoidal nature of the semiconductor markets, the surge in M&A activity this year, and more change likely to follow.

Panelists, and Moderator, Hillary Barnhart, each brought unique and diverse experiences to the table, provided pointed guidance on how to be prepared for the inevitable; how to survive and to thrive amid major organizational changes.

Cathy Lego, shared candid insight, through the lenses of a woman who founded a venture capital fund, and has been a board member for several semiconductor companies through mergers and acquisitions. She emphasized how we should not to wait to take action until organizational change is in motion. Hillary likened it to an "earthquake preparedness kit for your career."

Cathy urged that you must "always look for ways to add new value in your workplace. Volunteer for leadership roles, inside and outside of your organization and seek out opportunities." "Don't be shy, and make sure you develop your personal network with men and women inside and outside your company." Staying up-to-date on your skills is essential. "Stay trained and current, build functional depth in your role, and also broaden your functional expertise."

May Su, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Brooks Automation offered perspectives from roles she held at companies that were acquired, companies that acquired other companies, as well as startups that went under. She advised women to not be afraid of taking risks. "Put yourself out there, take on or ask for assignments, even if you feel you're not 100% qualified or haven't done the job before." You'll likely find it is better to take this risk than to never stretch yourself. "Get out of the fear factor and believe in yourself, take advantage of new opportunities." May cited a personal story when she accepted a position in a marketing role in China, leaving an engineering position in the U.S., a terrifying step that tested her skills, but enabled her to shine and further her career. She also reminded that we must not assume that the results of our work will speak for itself. "You must let people know how you contribute."

Barbara Baill, an executive coach with Mariposa Leadership was actively engaged as a human resources executive, throughout a major corporate acquisition. Today, she helps clients strengthen their careers through turbulence. "Many times men will assume they are qualified if they meet 20% of the requirements for a role, while women won't apply even if they only meet 80% of the criteria," she expressed.

"Find out what you're good at and really reflect on your career. In times of change, don't be too quick to make a move or rash decisions you'll regret." Barbara highlighted that an essential skill is learning to pause and assess the environment and opportunities around you. "Look up, Look Out, Pause, Look Around, Be Aware,"....and then determine the best courses of action.

Lilly Chung, a Deloitte Partner who high tech companies address critical business challenges emphasized the importance of having mentors and sponsors who can help you identify and get access to stretch assignments. A mentor is more of an advisor, whereas a sponsor is someone who advocates for you in the work place. When you develop a relationship with a potential sponsor, look for what you can offer that person in return."

Lilly reminded the group that key in any organizational change is to understand the final-state objectives to the bottom line. "Speak up and proactively suggest how to meet the objectives." Be open to accepting feedback, and don't take it personally."

Hillary Barnhart, who led multiple business transformations and strategic turnarounds, noted that women tend to ruminate on what went wrong instead of celebrating what went right. "Accept, learn and move on," she said. "Flexibility and resilience are keys to navigating organizational upheavals with success."

Dalia Vernikovsky, CEO and General Manager of Applied Seals North America, urged the audience to have courage. "Courage is not acting without fear, but acting despite fear; but don't sacrifice yourself on the altar of success." Dalia shared stories of traveling to the United States with her so, at the start of her career, facing personal challenges and career uncertainties...and moving upward from there. "Don't forget to take care of yourself, to set boundaries and to delegate where you can....It's ok to ask for what you want."

About the Women in Semiconductors and Embedded Systems WIN:

WITI Industry Networks (WINs) are about women helping women; connecting, mentoring, coaching and fostering leadership development. WIN participants share similar experiences in the workplace, with their backgrounds working in similar industries, or with similar technologies. The WIN is not fixed to a location, region or country, and everyone can contribute to the industry network, no matter title or level. The WIN Leadership Team is planning a full calendar of virtual and physical events, workshops, articles, discussion boards and forums.

If you are a Company, Conference or Industry Organization and would like to Partner with WITI WINs - please contact wins@corp.witi.com

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