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WITI Women | Padmasree Warrior

1. What was your first job in technology?
My first job in technology was in wafer process development at one of Motorola's semiconductor factories in Arizona. I was hired as a recent graduate to develop a new reactive ion etch process for dielectrics. At that time, my project had to be done in a large manufacturing fab due to short lead times to meet the market window. It was a tremendous challenge because it was my first exposure to the industry, I was the new kid on the block (the only female engineer in the entire factory) and I was under the gun to get the process ramped into manufacturing. I learned a lot on my first job both technically and socially, having to overcome gender and culture barriers. I formed many deep friendships which continue to this day. I would say my first job was the toughest but also the most rewarding. A year ago when I was appointed as Vice President I received several congratulatory notes from people that worked with me on my first job. The fact that they still remembered me meant a lot.

2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
People have diverse skills. I collect valuable nuggets from almost everyone I work with, including the people that I lead. So it is hard to name a single individual as my mentor. Perhaps my most significant and lasting mentor has been from one of my earlier bosses. I will always cherish this experience because this individual taught me the importance of challenging status-quo, being creative and leading with passion and energy. This particular mentor made me realize that the possibilities are endless if you have the stamina to pursue the direction you believe in. To put it in a nutshell, my mentor pointed out the boundaries to me so I could move beyond them!

3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
My greatest challenge has been one of my career assignments at Motorola. I was program manager for a technology called RFLDMOS. My job was to get the technology developed and transferred into manufacturing for revenue. That sounds easy enough, right? Well, it sounded easy to me until I started! It was then that I realized that the technology was immature and the business managers were not very receptive. They were making a lot of money with the older BiPolar technology, so why change? The manufacturing and technology organizations distrusted each other! The assembly operation in Malaysia was kept out of the loop! To top it all, I had no one reporting to me on this job. I was expected to lead a "virtual" organization. I had two choices, to quit or take it head on. I was young and foolish enough to choose the latter. In retrospect, I am glad I did. Today RFLDMOS is a winning technology for my company where we face little competition and I can look back and say - I did that! My strategies were simple - perseverance and influence. I worked hard at showing others the value of my mission, building strong teams and celebrating the results with everyone.

Padmasree Warrior answers these questions:
1. What was your first job in technology?
2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
6. What strategies do you use to maintain balance in your life?
7. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?

On the lighter side:
1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?
2. Define success in 10 words or less.
3. If you could only subscribe to 3 magazines, what would they be?

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