As Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger shared at the recent Computex Tradeshow in Taipei, the digitization driven by working and studying from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has “created a cycle of explosive growth in semiconductors.” Coupled with widespread operational restrictions, this has placed a huge strain on global supply chains. He adds, “If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that the entire supply chain needs to rise to the occasion to ensure no individual bottlenecks limit growth for the industry.”
Being in a hub of PC, datacenter and semiconductor manufacturing, Intel Taiwan plays a key role in the company’s efforts to simultaneously scale existing supply chains in the country and work with external foundries to ensure quality and reliability of the company’s myriad products.
In this article, we chat with four individuals who are at the heart of the action in Hsinchu and Taipei. With differing backgrounds, roles, and perspectives, they talk about their journey at Intel and offer insights into the excitement and unlimited possibilities of being in the external supply chain management.
Foundry Engineering Manager
In his school days, Paul was not a big fan of history, geography, etc. It was largely on that basis that he deduced engineering would suit him best, and he hasn’t looked back since. With a masters degree in chemical engineering, his journey at Intel began in 2015.
“Early on, when I was in research and development, I found pride in influencing the industry. But joining Intel made me realize I could do even more—not only in delivering the best technology but also impacting big decisions, such as external sourcing to the appropriate suppliers. Based on comprehensive technology data, my role involves benchmarking pros and cons followed by making proposals. It’s essentially influencing a multibillion-dollar business.”
When he’s not busy working with foundry suppliers, Paul spends his time volunteering in a volunteer group organized by the company. From collecting clothes for those in need to helping environmental organizations, he makes it a point to give back to the community.
“Having moved from a local company, the cultural difference struck me the most. Intel sits on the other end of the spectrum with an open environment, lots of thoughts and ideas on the table, and things moving in unison. There’s respect, open-mindedness, and an emphasis on diversity. I initially didn’t believe it would improve efficiency. But when you are at the leading edge, learning from different walks of life and perspectives does matter. And that has become important to me too.”
With tariff wars and a raging pandemic, Paul believes that many things need to be reconsidered in the industry’s supply chain, and with Taiwan being a central point in these shifts, many opportunities await.
“We know there’s lots of talent in Taiwan—brilliant people with ideas and talents. If you want your voice to be heard, to really grow and challenge yourself in an environment that does not confine you to only fundamental and fixed roles, this is definitely a good place to be.”
Outsourcing Supplier Manager – EMS
Born and raised in Taipei, Jessie’s first step in the working world also marked the beginning of her journey in supply chain. Her role as a buyer for a local semiconductor company was not challenging at the start, but she gradually got more involved in the manufacturing process and found joy in negotiation, diving deep into technical literature, and understanding the bigger picture.
Following a break to pursue a master’s degree in the United Kingdom, she returned to Taiwan and dived into the laptop industry by shooting cost analyses and improving organisation processes. When the opportunity to join Intel came about, Jessie was hesitant, knowing that she would be stepping out of her comfort zone into a new role and an entirely different culture too—but she took the leap.
No two days are the same for Jessie in her current role—there are new challenges to overcome and things to learn daily. From materials to suppliers, there are a lot factors at play in a supply chain and therein lies her motivation: the satisfaction of overcoming obstacles.
“I remember during the interview, my manager told me, “We don’t expect you to be someone else. Just be yourself and relax. This meant a lot to me, and I believe it captures Supply Chain as an organization very well. Be yourself, speak out when you have opinions and ideas, and your potential will be appreciated.”
As the company expands into more areas such as foundry and ODMs, she believes there will be more opportunities and insight into the overall industry and within the supply chain. “It’s a place where you can learn and encounter different perspectives. So don’t worry about inexperience, because it’s always a two-way interaction and a learning curve for everyone.”
Supply Chain Project Manager-Technical
An international local hire, Philip has been in Taiwan for almost 15 years, and at Intel for 10. With a PhD in solid state physics, he started his adventure in the semiconductor industry when he was back in the United States. Growing up, he had interest and zeal in just about everything, but he found a particular passion in linguistics. At the age of 6, he was already learning Chinese. By 13, through a middle school transition program, he started university and completed degrees in physics and Chinese language and literature.
Today, as a manager in Technology Access, his work is in design enablement and yield ramp, essential processes that begin long before a chip goes into fabrication. He works with teams worldwide, including Germany, Israel, and the USA.
For Philip, almost every day brings about new highs. Seeing millions of connections coming together seamlessly to build logic on such a minute scale takes a lot of problem solving, refining, and testing. “The software is supposed to give almost perfect predictability but sometimes there are gaps and this is where it gets tricky and exciting.”
With the current pace of innovation and growth, he believes that the challenge for leaders and contributors is to find new places where they can make greater positive impact.
“Given the company’s growing product scope and the use of foundry products, Supply Chain’s involvement in foundry and pathfinding is central. It’s a worldwide effort, but the tech is largely made in Taiwan and so that’s where the action has to be. This is both an incredible opportunity and place to make a difference—to grow professionally and personally. It will be work, but it will also be fun.”
Lim Chee Khiang
ODM Commercial Team Manager
Growing up, Chee Khiang a.k.a CK, recalls harboring many different ambitions but one defining moment stood out: reading a newspaper article on workforce statistics which forecasted an increase in demand for accountants. With an interest in business and numbers, he went on to pursue a degree in accounting and economics.
One can say that CK’s journey at Intel is characterized by big leaps. The Penang-native spent his first 20 years in finance positions, from being an analyst to supporting factories and business units. In 2016, an opportunity in the Supply Chain group opened in Shenzhen during the boom of the tablet ecosystem. Having already made a few business trips and fallen in love with the city, he decided to make the big move over with his family and start anew. He has since moved to Taipei.
Beyond negotiating skills, having strong business acumen and staying in tune with outside events are central to his role. “It’s never a dull day at the office for me, especially given the current climate. Earlier in when the pandemic struck and factories were shutting down, it was up to us to come up with solutions and to push suppliers in order to keep running in some capacity. In many ways one can also say that we’re business partners and factory managers”.
In the midst of this supply chain expansion, CK acknowledges the tug-of-war for talents in Taiwan. The options are aplenty, but he believes that what sets Intel apart is in its DNA. “When you join the company, it’s not just about a job—you have an opportunity to build a career.”
“If you look at Intel’s progression as a company, you’ll see that we haven’t stopped reinventing ourselves. From CPU to now being end-to-end. I for one have progressed from being in finance to supply chain. That said, don’t see your current or starting role as limited. Stay hungry, be curious and strive to create your own destiny—the opportunities will start presenting themselves.
Ready to start your own journey with Intel Taiwan? Explore opportunities here.