Features


Engineering equal opportunities

By Grace Chew

Jasmine Yeo became part of STMicroelectronic (ST)’s pioneering batch of engineers with a material sciences background when she signed up to work in this traditionally male dominated industry.

Established in 1987, ST is today a world leader in many different fields with particular strengths in multimedia, power, connectivity and sensing technologies.

It also focuses on delivering solutions that reduce energy consumption and has a growing presence in the emerging advanced health-care market.

With net revenues of US$8.51bil (RM26.4bil) reported in 2009, ST now employs about 51,000 employees worldwide.

Its wafer fabrication plant in Singapore where Yeo works employs 5,300 employees, of which more than 2,000 are engineers.

In the course of nine years, she has been posted to three different departments and is now the section manager of a team of five process engineers.

“I work in the front end manufacturing operations at our manufacturing complex in Ang Mo Kio which produces 4,000 different products and more than 50 technologies,” she says.

As a section manager, she helps her subordinates develop knowledge and methodologies for better execution of their duties.

A typical day involves looking into technical challenges and brainstorming for innovative engineering solutions and improvements. Whenever problems arise, she is expected to go to the production line to get a first-hand understanding of the issue.

“Being hands-on and having good rapport with operators and technicians can reveal nuggets of information that are key to the solution,” she explains.

She also drives the engineering Excellence Teams to meet the manufacturing parameter targets and characterises processes and equipment systems with the equipment engineering colleagues.

“To improve process performances, I engage in cross-functional site meetings and am regularly in touch with our European counterparts for knowledge updates,” she says.

Diversity

Diversity is an integral part of life in ST. Knowledge-sharing and collaboration with colleagues from sister plants in Europe happens on a regular basis.

“It is like working in a big global village!” she says. “We have more than 20 nationalities working in our Singapore plant alone.”

She thoroughly enjoys this synergy and says the knowledge and know-how gained from the diverse range of people she has met and worked with are priceless.

Adding to this synergy is ST’s work culture of innovation, constant learning and teamwork.

ST expects its employees to have a strong appetite to learn and improve. In exchange, the organisation offers them tremendous growth opportunities.

The management is open to innovative ideas and has in place a robust corporate recognition process that motivates employees to constantly seek improvement.

“We have a few hundred teams formed each year to look into how to improve things and processes,” she says.

Teamwork is strong and people are always working towards resolving and assisting one another in projects.

ST also provides an infrastructure for mentoring and feedback sessions so employees can approach their supervisors to discuss individual performances and support needed. It also engages in technologies that are dynamic and constantly changing. As the complexity of products grow, more talents are needed.

“There are always opportunities for new learning and new tasks on hand,” she says.

With a good productivity track record, new technologies like Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) are being transferred to Singapore.

“My grandmother once told me not to be too ‘gung-ho’ as an engineering job is a man’s job and women will never progress in this career,” she says.

But the career advancement and opportunities she has had has proved that engineering is no longer a male-dominated sector and that women too can take on leadership roles.

“If you are looking for a dynamic place to learn and grow, and you are passionate, technically innovative and enjoy the synergy of working with people from diverse cultures, ST is it,” she says. — Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

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