The Secrets to Success in Hardware Design, and Lucy Kuria Naim’s Journey to Discover Career Growth

In 2006, Lucy Kuria Naim felt stuck in her career in hardware. She seemed lost, with few opportunities for growth. Then she joined Intel. Now, almost 15 years later, Lucy is a leader in pre-silicon design for hardware—and she’s seeing firsthand how some of the technologies she’s helped develop are making an impact on the world.

Lucy first became interested in Intel after attending a Women in Engineering conference. There has long been a disparity for women in STEM, and the Intel employees in attendance wore red to symbolize Intel’s commitment to ending that gender barrier. She says of the interaction, “All you saw was just red, red, red everywhere. For me, it was just amazing. It got me very excited to join Intel and I could see that there’d be a career progression for me.”

Lucy was right in thinking there was a place for her—she’s now an SoC Design Engineering Manager at Intel, working in chip design.

There are three key roles in chip design: the team of architects who draw out the plan, the designers who articulate how to put it together, and the verification engineers who test the chip to ensure it works properly before it’s manufactured. Lucy works in the design stage, relying upon her team—and her innate curiosity and problem-solving skills—to create innovative technology solutions.

While chips are one of the unseen components that live within technology, the impact Lucy and her team makes has never been more visible—with the COVID-19 pandemic showing us just how much the world depends upon the technology she helps create.

“I think right now, especially in the era of COVID, and everyone relying so much on technology, knowing the products that we are building are critical at the time we’re living in right now,” Lucy says, “whether it be the kids with laptops, or the machinery needed in the hospitals … just knowing we play a role in it is very important.”

Though a work-from-home set up has changed her schedule, she remains inspired to face design challenges head on.

“My favorite part of my job,” she says, “is starting my day with a problem I think I absolutely cannot figure out, and by the end of the day we have a solution for it. For me, that’s a very worthwhile day, just being able to try different things to solve a problem and get to a solution.”

This relentless quest for answers is a common trait in successful hardware designers, but Lucy also believes it can be their downfall if they can’t manage their schedules.

“At Intel,” says Lucy, “we are so customer obsessed that we can spend hours reworking the same problem to get the best results. We are insatiable, so it is important for us to realize when we have found the best solution and accept it.”

Lucy thinks career success can only exist when the environment and culture match the strengths of the individual and the team. At Intel, she feels like she can share and leverage her strengths. It helps that her team keeps her grounded, while being supportive throughout the whole design process.

“Intel has a vast array of benefits for anyone,” she says, “wherever they are, whatever stage of life they’re in. Knowing they care for me as a human being inspires me to work harder, because I know they have my back. I’ve grown a lot in my confidence as a designer and a leader at Intel.”

Not only has Lucy experienced many such benefits at Intel, she has Intel to thank (at least partially) for moving her into a new stage in life; because it was at Intel that she met her husband.

“Our first date was in the cafeteria,” she says. “We both worked at different sites, but were eventually able to get transferred to the same site. We like to call our son our little Intel baby.” While that “little Intel baby” may someday grow into a full-grown Intel employee himself, for now, he’s content with just digging for bugs in the yard.

 

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1 thought on “The Secrets to Success in Hardware Design, and Lucy Kuria Naim’s Journey to Discover Career Growth

  1. “My advice to women: apart from doing what you like, establish your own scorecard. Go with what works for you both at the workplace and at home. Trust that what you’re doing is best for you, your family, and the organization and hold your own scorecard. Don’t cave to external pressure.”

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