Women In Power

Reporter’s Notebook: There are more ways to consider power in the semiconductor industry today.

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This is not my usual, technically-focused report, but it’s important sometimes to reflect on the human side of the industry, which can seem woefully absent at times in the scramble to get projects out the door and meet quarterly numbers.

This past Tuesday, November 28, I moderated a panel of women who are truly inspirational for the achievements in their respective parts of the industry, and for the genuine enthusiasm to bring other women up with them.

This Women in Technology panel discussion titled “Empowering Leadership with WIT and WISDOM,” was generously hosted by the ESD Alliance, ANSYS, SEMI, and Semiconductor Engineering, in cooperation with NetSpeed Systems, Samsung, Stanford Health Care and Tribal Ventures, and was held at SEMI Headquarters in Milpitas.

The panelists included:


Amita Dhawan, Executive Director, Applications at Stanford Health Care


Indira Joshi, Director of Datacenter Storage & Memory Architecture, Samsung Memory Solutions Lab.


Sundari Mitra, CEO and co-founder, NetSpeed Systems


Mona Sabet, Managing Director, Tribal Ventures


Margaret Schmitt, Chief of Staff to the CEO at ANSYS, Inc.

Ajit Manocha, President and Chief Executive Officer of SEMI, talked about efforts for diversity and inclusion within the semiconductor industry. For women in technology, this was a breath of fresh air.

Next, the mastermind of the entire event, Vic Kulkarni, Vice President & Chief Strategist, Office of CTO, Semiconductor Business Unit at ANSYS introduced the panel, but also showed this video, which is a must watch for everyone, particularly those with daughters.

For those not able to attend, I began with the following:

“As we are all very well aware in this industry, planning is critical for a successful project. Our careers are no different. And it is with this in mind that we are all here tonight. Judging by the number of attendees, it appears that this is an area we could all benefit from discussing more. It is an honor to be here with this distinguished panel, who’s bios are on the handouts, because each in her respective space has been a leader, and I for one am very excited to hear what each of them has to say about our topics tonight.

The topics chosen for tonight, namely Personal Branding, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking and Mentoring, are important considerations for everyone, and should give you at the very least food for thought, but hopefully some concrete skills you can apply immediately to help you achieve your career goals.”

And so as not to avoid the topic, I did acknowledge the very serious subject of sexual harassment that is being exposed in every part of society these days. It is clear we must come together as a society to address this so that the disturbing trend doesn’t continue. Perhaps a future WIT AND WISDOM event can specifically focus on this.

That said, we commenced with the panel discussion.

To begin, each panelist gave a short overview on one of five chosen topic areas to begin the discussion.

First, Sabet spoke on Personal Branding, which she stressed comes down to reputation.

Second, Mitra focused on on Leadership, beginning with a profound quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Third, Joshi discussed Negotiation, which starts with knowing your value.

Fourth, Dhawan offered solid advice on taking Networking to next level.

And last but not least, Schmitt took the lead on Mentoring, and proposed that finding a champion is the key to a successful mentorship relationship.

It was an extremely lively discussion with many practical takeaways, which I will cover in depth in a future blog.

I am regularly invigorated by learning more about technology innovations, but this is the first time in recent memory that I learned something that will help me grow both in my career and approach to life in general. That it occurred with a panel of such dynamic women who have already achieved so much, made the lessons all that more poignant and personally energizing.

Finally, here are some photos from the event, courtesy of the ESD Allliance’s Julie Rogers.