Turn diversity into a strategic advantage
By Mohan Maheswaran
Unleashing the creative thinking and world experiences of a diverse executive team along with a diverse global workforce is simply the best answer to solving today’s complex global challenges in the global competitive environment we live in.
At Semtech, the subject of diversity is never raised as it is simply part of our culture. Our management team and employees are armed with a strong set of core values that helps to harness the value of our diversity and to point the entire global team in a unified direction.
Semtech is a semiconductor company operating in one of the most competitive industries in the world today. In a field where technical innovation is crucial to long-term survival, every competitive advantage that can be gained can make or break the company’s future.
One competitive advantage for Semtech is the diversity of its workforce, which starts with its executive management team. As a Sri Lankan-born, British educated, U.S. citizen, I’ve made it a priority to build the best, most diverse, management team I can possibly build. Within our management ranks our 12 most senior executives come from 10 different countries of origin; representing eight different ethnicities and six different native languages.
Diversity is built into our culture in a way that ensures it is not a ‘once and done’ initiative. Our focus is always on ensuring we look wide enough and deep enough at all our new potential hires to make sure we hire the best. Hiring the best is the starting point to building the most capable team.
Once the team is in place, it is critical to get everybody aligned in the right direction and embracing the same core values. Semtech’s core values include:
1) Teamwork and innovation in all areas
2) Treat all individuals with dignity and respect
3) Honesty and integrity in all we do
4) Open and direct communications
5) Fiscal responsibility
The nature of our core values and the way they are emphasized and honored by management has created an environment at Semtech where diversity isn’t about categories and statistics, but instead is about people bringing their unique capabilities to work in order to drive future innovation that is differentiated by each individual’s ability to think differently.
In the highly creative and competitive field of semiconductors, there is a bottom-line payoff to diversity. When aligned to a common set of values, the diversity of thought and experience brings new perspectives to a project. To have diversity of thought, you have to bring in people around you who have diverse experiences. Differences in race, gender, and socioeconomic background are three characteristics, but so are differences in learning style or differences in professional disciplines. Our diverse team can identify with this innovation and provide the experience it takes to move quickly to capitalize on these new ideas.
Creating successful innovative products in today’s competitive environment requires our employees across all our regional locations to work with customers and partners who are also spread across the world. Semtech’s diverse senior management team is able to connect with our customers and partners in a unique way facilitating rapid decision making. Our senior management diversity has a clear advantage when dealing with global issues in a diverse world.
A good example of how our global diversity is making an impact in the world today is the emergence of our LoRa technology, which is rapidly becoming one of the leading technologies for low power, low cost Internet of Things connectivity. The technology was developed by a team in Switzerland, France and the UK and is now being deployed across the globe including in India, South Africa, Korea, China, Taiwan, Netherlands, France, North America and many other international locations.
I am confident that our ability to continue to transition Semtech into a great company correlates directly with the talents and efforts of our diverse leadership team. This hidden value is one of the keys to the future growth in shareholder value.
• Mohan Maheswaran is president and CEO of Semtech, a semiconductor company based in Camarillo.