Ho Wai Wong-Lam is a VP of Strategy at NXP with a long history in engineering and the semiconductor industry. More than 30 years ago, she studied electronic engineering in Hong Kong, where she was born. A scholarship from Philips brought her to Eindhoven, The Netherlands, where she obtained her master's degree. In the first part of a two-part profile, Ho Wai talks about her responsibilities at NXP, her career choices and why NXP is a great place to work.
In part 2, Ho Wai talks about being a woman in engineering and the position of female professionals at NXP.
What Are Your Main Tasks and Responsibilities As VP of Strategy?
As a Business Line strategist, I have an advisory role for the GMs and other Business Line leaders in the strategy development process. The GMs own the strategies. Many people in the company contribute strategic inputs and ideas, including the strategists who are the trusted advisors offering strategic insights and consolidating different inputs into a coherent strategy.
Tell Us a Little About the Strategy Development Process.
Business Line strategists do not develop strategies in isolation. Strategy development is a collaborative process in which business strategists support the businesses to develop the strategies and align them with corporate strategy. Strategy development covers a broad space that includes portfolio and roadmap management, gap analysis, technology and manufacturing strategy, strategic partnerships, R&D and go-to-market execution strategy, and sometimes also inorganic M&A (both acquisitions and divestitures).
That Sounds Really Interesting and Demanding. Do You Have Time for Anything Else?
Other than my regular business strategist work, I also represent NXP through their sponsorship of the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) to promote “technology for good”. The XTC consortium is led by Samsung and sponsored by our CTO Lars Reger. It’s a worldwide competition that empowers entrepreneurs to address global challenges facing humanity and our planet, inspired by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Let’s Take a Look at Your Career. Why Did You Choose to Study Engineering?
I am most fortunate to have very loving parents who supported and nurtured my curious young mind and allowed me to explore many fields of interest, including music, art, sports, volunteer work, science and math. By the time I reached middle school, I'd found my passion in science and saw the beauty in math. To this day, I derive joy from learning and get a kick out of problem solving. When it came time to choose a university study, I chose engineering because I could incorporate what I love into my daily work.
Any Other Reasons?
I also think that engineering innovations can have great social impact, mostly good, but sometimes also with unintended (bad) consequences that we as engineers need to pay attention to. Making a positive impact on the world inspires me.
Why Is NXP Such a Great Place to Work?
NXP is a truly international company with great people who are motivated, customer-focused and have the passion to win.
What Do You Find Most Inspiring About What We Do at NXP in General, and in Your Work in Particular?
I am inspired to contribute towards technology for good.
What Is Your Work Motto?
I actually have two: “Go all out in everything you do, then find peace with yourself, whether you get what you think you deserve or not.” Also: “Go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good.” I am happy with all the rewards that have come my way in my career, and I’d like to think I have done some good.
What Advice Would You Give to Young Engineers Just Starting Out on Their Career?
Keep your curiosity like a young child. Learn how to learn, as technology advancement is fast paced, so you need to learn to reinvent yourself throughout your career. Believe in yourself and reach out to mentors who believe in you. Some of them may help you to become technical experts and leaders. Others may help you to broaden your horizon. Still others may help you in soft skills such as emotional intelligence, working with people or leadership and teamwork.
You Were Asked to Support the GSA WLI (Global Semiconductor Alliance, Women’s Leadership Initiative.) Tell Us Something About That.
The GSA WLI showcase is meant to showcase women in the semiconductor industry to encourage women to consider a career in technology. Jodi Shelton, GSA co-founder and CEO, reached out to me when she started the WLI. I am happy to support by sharing my experience to encourage more women to join in. It is more about promoting the semiconductor industry to women than about me personally.
The We Are NXP program embodies the people, spirit and values of NXP, which is committed to advancing the world by making it safer and more connected. We pursue our ambitions through technological innovations designed to enhance the quality of life of our employees, our communities and the world at large, all the while ensuring sustainability and minimizing our impact on the environment. Read more here.