Patsy has spent more than 25 years in Human Resource Management covering SMEs and MNCs in Singapore and countries in Asia. She is now the HR Manager of SSIA supporting the HR management including compensation and benefits and payroll administration.
Can you tell us about your own journey in the semiconductor industry? What first got you into the semiconductor industry?
I do not have a long history in the semiconductor industry as I started my career when I was fresh out of school, “wet behind the ears” not knowing what to do. It was after 20 years working in various companies and in real estate, hotel, trading and metal industries that my first foray into the electronics and semiconductor sector started when I joined Siemens Electromechanical Components in 1997. I worked with a dynamic leader and started up from a team of 6 to 60 staff in the Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore within less than a year.
After this I joined Magnetic Data, owned by venture capitalists in USA. After 3 years the company was sold to Solectron and I moved to the Regional office to support the Regional HR Director in Ethics & Compliance, SOA, Integration of Group HR & union matters in Singapore and managing the Shenzhen plant for a short while before I was offered to return to Siemens to start-up the Electronics Assembly Division factory in 2003.
When the division was started, we had just 27 staff in the Sales, Product Management, R&D and Technical Support teams. As I counted, I sieved through more than 7,500 resumes on Jobstreet and other advertisements and interviewed like more than 1,000 in 18 months! We finally grew close to 300 employees, before the 2008-2009 economic downtown struck and we had to downsize. It was painful and hard to see experienced employees leave. Business picked up again in 2010. The business was eventually acquired by ASM Pacific Technology in 2011. I stayed on until I retired in 2017.
What were your biggest challenges and excitements as an employee in the semiconductor industry?
The biggest challenge was the amount of technical knowledge I had to grasp so that I can understand discussions at meetings and know how to approach business issues. There is so much to learn and very technical and till today I am still learning. I enjoy learning and therefore was very excited whenever I sat in interviews with the managers who were recruiting technicians, engineers in R&D, manufacturing and even procurement. At one stage I even learnt how to read technical drawings and refreshed my school geometry and mechanics lessons! It helped me to improve my selection skills and I was able to ascertain the technical skills of candidates sometimes without the managers.
Another challenge was the M&As and integration and I have gained much experience on both the side of the acquirer and the acquired. Each experience was different and the most challenging was not only business functions but cultural integration not only in Singapore but across the regions. With these experiences gained, you can safely say that I have enough experience to bring a company from birth to death.
How do you see the changes in the semiconductor industry in Singapore in the recent 10 years?
There has been and will continue to have a lot of automation and use of AI in the processes. A lot more investment has been and will be put into R&D to ensure the industry keeps up with the technology changes in AI and IoT. Even after this COVID mess, I am sure there will be many more job redesigning and consolidation of functions not just in the semiconductor industry but also everywhere. Everyone needs to embrace changes. Learning is lifelong and if the company or government don’t have time to train you, you train yourself. In the impending changes in the new normal, remember to upgrade and invest in yourself through training. Treat the money you spend on training as an investment that you will not lose but only gain.
Let’s talk about something personal
I enjoyed my work in HR. As an extrovert personality, I adapt and warm up very quickly with most people and am comfortable with peoples at all levels from the janitor to the CEO of companies and the playful teenager to the serious professional.
I believe Integrity and Honesty with Care together with Trustworthiness, Discretion, Impartiality and Loyalty are essential values in a relationship and especially so in a HR function. Every interaction is a new experience and there must be a general interest and dedication to serve others. I believe everyone has talent and ability and must be given a chance to excel.
I must also appreciate that all my bosses in the companies that I have worked with have been very supportive and if they have not liked me, they tolerated me. My colleagues, lunch mates, people who work closely with me have been nice to me and I always say as a parting shot that when we meet outside “please do not “elak” / “siam” (Malay and Chinese word for avoid) me. Come and say hello to me”.