In each phase of my career when I took on a program management role, I reached out to the experts on the team to learn more in-depth about their fields. When leading a multi-national effort on multi-chip modules, I had hours-long sessions with a senior engineer to refresh my memory about signal integrity and packaging issues. When pushing new standards for high-speed interconnect chips, I had many, many lessons from analog engineering about PLL design, and with digital engineering about encoding techniques, encryption, pipelining, etc. Most recently, leading a project to produce test equipment, I dug into the software design with the help of the programming team to discuss partitioning the code, overlays, call-backs, compiled versus open source issues, etc.
In all of these cases, my involvement as an engineer with each team went above being the program manager, and generated a lot of trust and confidence both for them and for myself.
Continue reading “Program Management”
1992 brought a change at IBM Microelectronics. It was a big change. Facing business pressures, and with a stockpile of cool technologies, IBM chose to open their doors and sell their technology capabilities to the rest of the semiconductor-using world! True, those heady days of three-level-metal, 8-inch wafers seem simple now, looking back. But at the time those techniques, and others, were state of the art.
I was working in Program Management, and had gotten a taste of travel, and being in front of customers. I liked it. I wanted more. I signed up and moved to the Field Application Engineering department, serving external (and internal) customers with IBM’s premier ASIC offerings.
The biggest challenge in selling what IBM had was that IBM had different stuff. There were other ASIC companies out there, but IBM had top-end silicon, packaging, tools, sign-off methods, testing, and more. How to convince the customer that those things are worth a bit more, and that their design engineers could make use of it?
Continue reading “Out into the Real World”
Soon after the successes in designing subsystems for a new 20MHz tester, while looking around for more ways to contribute to the team, I came into the office on a Monday morning to see a meeting announcement.
“We have all been given a new mission,” proclaimed our manager. In those days, this was not an uncommon occurrence in IBM, yet my co-workers and I had worried looks.
Continue reading “Back to School”