Growing up in a family of five with two sisters, having gone to an all-girls school, and being raised in a predominantly female environment, Min Suet Lim didn’t dream of becoming an engineer at one of the world’s largest corporations. In fact, as a little girl, she aspired to become a fashion designer. Happily, she eventually went on to study chemical engineering. Today, she’s a principal engineer at Intel with over 70 approved patents and IP filings to her name.
Min Suet has strived to work hard, perform to the best of her abilities, and to do it all without fear—a mindset that she credits both her parents for instilling in her. And one can see that it is this fearlessness and acceptance of new challenges that has taken her on a deeply gratifying career journey.
The importance of a persevering mindset and trust
It certainly wasn’t Min Suet’s goal to become a principal engineer from the get-go. Instead, she says it was the little triumphs and wins achieved along the way that eventually set her on that path. She draws parallels with climbing a mountain. “You can’t see the peak, but every small step takes you higher up. And at the end of every day, I try to mindfully reflect on what I’ve achieved.”
She also emphasizes the roles a good work environment and trusting, supportive colleagues and superiors played in her career. “Looking back upon the past 15 years, I realize that there’s no luck involved in getting to where I am. But I’ve certainly have been lucky to have managers and mentors who trusted me and pushed me. Oftentimes, these are the managers who push their employees to go further and beyond them.”
Reflecting upon defining moments in her career journey, Min Suet highlights two key events. The first was a presentation that she gave to the leadership team when she was a young engineer. She recalls boldly challenging the status quo and a VP’s viewpoint. The second occurred at an event for senior female tech leaders, where she realized that success boils down to an individual’s mindset and behavior.
Control what you can control
On what advice she would give to other women looking to grow their careers in technology, Min Suet says, “Self-doubt is always going to be present in some form. But never be afraid to voice your thoughts. Try new things often and don’t self-define. Work on things outside your expertise—this will help you relate to the bigger picture, the organization’s goals.”
She believes that stress often stems from losing sight of the bigger picture and control of the things that matter—and that’s why she also underscores the need to remember that one always has free will and can decide their balance between life and work.
“If you ask me, you’ll find that many of the most important qualities are more attitude-based rather than skillset,” she says.
Even with all that she’s achieved, Min Suet observes her own learning continues, pointing out that, in the technology field, much of what we know will eventually be outdated and irrelevant. As an engineer, even a principal engineer, there are always new things to learn. And Min Suet is— as fearlessly as ever—up for the challenge.
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