The development and distribution of integrated circuits is a substantial part of the electronics engineering field. As electronic devices become increasingly advanced and sophisticated, it is important for EE companies to design circuits that can support and fuel innovation.
Maxim Integrated, a company based in San Jose (California), has been designing and manufacturing both analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits for almost half a century. Maxim’s circuits can be integrated with a variety of devices, including autonomous vehicles, consumer tech, and tools for industrial settings.
Ultimately, these circuits are designed to support smaller and smarter electronic systems, while also enhancing performance, security, and energy efficiency.
Veronique Rozan has been working at Maxim Integrated for almost 9 years. Although she started her career as an applications engineer, providing technical support to clients, she now plays a key role in driving the company’s business development.
In the first of a series of interviews with established female figures in the EE Industry, Veronique opens up about her personal and professional development, while also offering valuable insight into the present and future of the EE Industry.
Veronique Rozan, executive director of business management at Maxim Integrated.
Ingrid Fadelli: Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your key responsibilities at Maxim?
Veronique Rozan: My name is Veronique, the French version of Veronica. I hold an MSEE and have been working at Maxim for almost 9 years now. I joined as a project manager and my first job was as an application engineer for another company. After joining Maxim, I moved between several different positions and am now Executive Director of Business Management. I am responsible for two lines of products within the most important business unit in terms of revenue at Maxim.
IF: What inspired you to enter the engineering field and electrical engineering in particular?
VR: When I was a child, I was very close to my dad and spent a lot of time with him. He taught me to change a flat tire, he showed me how to fix things at home, how to use a soldering iron. I remember I loved watching MacGyver on TV, that was one of my favorite series. I loved how MacGyver was so ingenious and creative, solving problems in very practical ways (or so I thought). I liked race car circuits and building radios as much as I liked little ponies!
I suppose that’s what initially drew me to engineering. Later on, as I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go towards chemistry or electrical engineering, I ended up choosing electrical engineering because my father influenced me greatly and the career perspectives in that field were better at that time.
IF: What was your professional journey like and how did you get to where you are now? What challenges, if any, did you have to overcome?
VR: Overall, I would say that I have been very lucky. Except for a few hiccups that I was able to overcome, I am grateful for the support that I received from my management throughout my career.
I like to say that if you work hard and show your capabilities, go beyond, and exercise your potential; make yourself visible to the organization and are ready when an opportunity presents itself, then good things will happen. The organization will be more inclined to embrace your strengths and create an environment for you to grow.
In the early stages of my career, the main challenge I had to face was that I had to learn by myself and didn’t have strong mentors or coaches to show me the way. This gave me a lot of freedom and autonomy, yet at times I felt that some guidance would have been welcome too.
The major change in my professional life took place when my family and I decided to move to the US from France and for me to leave my career there.
I was the one driving the move, even though my husband was the one who needed to relocate;
Maxim was my second company and I wasn’t familiar with the recruitment process in the US, nor did I know how to write my resume. Luckily I got some help. At the time, my main motivation was not to get a nice job title and salary; it was mostly to get started and have a job to go to every day.
IF: When and how did you realise that you wanted to work in the business and managerial side of things?
VR: Rather early in my career I had the opportunity to taste what managing people could be like, so as I grew in the organization and took on some new challenges, this just became a part of the evolution. I went from having an intern to having a dotted line report to having 6 reports in my organization. I don’t think there was one special moment when I told myself that this was it. It was part of me the whole time, I guess.
In regards to the business side, it was more complicated. When I first started working as an Applications Engineer, I saw myself as a technical expert and I would always refer to the marketing person accompanying me on customer visits as the business person.
I think that for a long time I wasn’t in tune with the business side of things, because this was an area I did not know much about and was a little scared of.
After several years in project and program management, I started feeling like I wanted to make a bigger impact on the company and realised that there was no better way to do so than by working on the business side of things. It took some time for me to prepare myself and prove to Maxim’s management that I was ready. Today, I am happy with the business side of my job and enjoy it.
IF: I see that you have covered several different roles within the electronic/electrical engineering (EE) industry, what was your personal experience with each of these roles?
VR: When I think about my career, I can see that a natural evolution took place. I started off as an applications engineer, as I wanted to focus on the technical side of EE, but not to the extent of becoming a designer.
This experience allowed me to travel, while also getting more acquainted with internal teams, processes and systems, as the queries I received from customers were no longer only technical.
This led me to discover project management. My rigor, attention to detail and the knowledge I acquired during my initial work placement allowed me to really embrace project management and add value to the organization.
I joined Maxim as a project manager at a time when the company had recently started hiring project managers within business units, to offload designers who were inefficient. This was challenging, as it was a big change for me, but it taught me how you can drive change successfully.
I remember visiting each design center, explaining what my role was and how I could help each one of the designers on the team. Connecting with so many people was a wonderful experience, which also helped me to understand how I could add value to the company.
After project management, I was made responsible no longer for individual projects, but for a whole portfolio of them, where the overall metrics counted as much as individual ones.
Maxim decided to centralize project and program management in order to streamline processes and share best practices, which made a lot of sense to me. I left the business unit with the firm intention to come back and get closer to the business side of things at a later time.
A few years later I finally joined the business unit as a product manager and created a team that would support Maxim in the operational and tactical side of things.
After a few years of working in product management, I was offered to be in charge of a specific piece of business, as some kind of trial and potential stepping stone for me to move towards business management. Today, after two years of driving the company’s core automotive business line, I added another significant line of products serving a major Maxim customer.
IF: How was it to shift from a role in applications engineering to a management position?
VR: Early on as an applications engineer, I had to work with more junior engineers and position myself as a leader to organize the team, even if there wasn’t really a hierarchy.
This gave me the chance to see what it would be like, without making it formal. When I had to prepare the first real report though, I realised that things were different. I wish I had been advised then, as this would have allowed me to realise that I did not have sufficient training before I was dropped into that world.
This wasn’t easy and I made all the mistakes a first-time manager can make. I learned the hard way and made it a point afterwards to become a better manager and improve in areas that I didn’t know existed or mattered.
I was so action and object-oriented that I didn’t give reports the importance that they should have. I had to completely rewind and train my muscles to act differently.
I learned to recognize people, provide timely feedback, and empower them whenever possible. This is all easy to say—but never easy to do in real life. If you are aware of what needs to be done, it becomes easier to remind yourself to do it.
I strongly encourage organizations to offer training and coaching for new managers, as I feel that this would avoid many difficult situations and improve efficiency within teams.
IF: What do you feel are the key challenges currently faced within the EE industry and how could these be overcome?
VR: Macroeconomics and political climate overall are definitely major elements affecting the EE industry and creating economic up and down cycles.
We have seen many smaller companies in this field struggle and end up being absorbed by bigger ones. Vertical or horizontal consolidations happen all the time and they are always in everyone’s mind, especially in down cycles. I think that having a sound and sustainable long term strategy, being able to identify untapped areas, and fueling innovation will play a crucial role in addressing these economic challenges.
There are two aspects to consider, the technology involved and the important role that companies play in developing products with a reduced carbon footprint, as well as solutions that encourage the use of cleaner energy.
All the advances we make at Maxim towards smaller and lower power products contribute to these efforts.
The second aspect is the people involved in such projects. Companies will need to consider how to attract and retain talent and groom the next generation of leaders, while ensuring that they have equal opportunities to access higher-level positions.
IF: What aspects of working in this field do you enjoy the most and find most gratifying?
VR: I enjoy being involved in automotive projects as I’m excited to participate in the development of technologies that will one day bring about fully-autonomous vehicles.
Being able to challenge designers to solve customer problems and launching new products that can improve the world we live in is extremely gratifying for me.
My job also involves engaging with many different people at different levels of the organization, giving back by acknowledging their impact, and recognizing their achievements. I really enjoy meeting individuals with different personalities and being exposed to a variety of cultures and ways of thinking.
IF: Considering that women make up approximately 18% of the engineering workforce, could you tell us a little bit about your experience working as a female engineer, particularly in the field of electrical engineering?
VR: It’s a lot better now than when I attended school! We had about 10% of women in courses then. Again, I can say that I was lucky. Except for some small incidents relative to me being a woman, I don’t think that my gender affected my growth one way or the other . I did have times when I felt that I needed to prove myself more than anyone else because there might have been some biases., Sometimes it took longer than I would have wished, most of the time I ended up being recognized for my work. Most of the time, those moments were associated to specific individuals and were not at an organization level, so it wasn’t difficult to isolate them.
I never let any type of discrimination affect me or my results and my achievements always spoke for themselves. Now, I do recognize that not every woman in this field has the same positive experience, but I want to believe that performance and results can dissipate some biases.
IF: What are your hopes for your future professional development and for the development of the electronics engineering industry at large?
VR: Looking at my professional development, I would like to reach a point where people around me feel inspired by my work, as I can now engage with different levels of the organization and have a positive impact on the financials of the company through my vision and execution. Leading a business unit with different functions reporting to me is definitely the next level that I would want to achieve.
In terms of the development of the electronics engineering industry, I remember that when I was an engineering student women made up approximately arout 10% of my class. When I actually started working, I was surprised to find that there are actually many more women in the EE Industry than I would have expected.
I also remember noticing this when I studied abroad for a year in Ottawa, where a greater proportion of what we would call ‘minority group members’ were taking engineering courses, compared to business ones. My interpretation back then was that engineering was seen as a reliable platform to succeed socially, as well as professionally, which offered opportunities to diverse populations.
While visiting customers, I have seen an evolution towards more diversification and this is encouraging, as a diverse workforce brings a broader panel of views, opinions and ideas, all built from a large variety of experiences. This is what I have been chasing my whole life through my travels; to open my mind, understand and respect differences.
I hope that the EE industry will continue to evolve, enabling diversity and allowing new leaders to emerge, while being responsible for future generations.
IF: Before we conclude the interview, would you like to share any ongoing projects or news at Maxim with our readers?
VR: Maxim is working hard to develop its employees, which are perceived as the highest value in the company.
This is achieved by enabling people to take charge of their development, providing tools and resources to accompany each one in their journey to better themselves. There are many programs at Maxim where people can network and learn with others, engage with different groups and embrace diversity in the workplace.
There is a genuine willingness on the part of Maxim’s top management to aid the development of each and every employee and attract new talent, by showing how everyone can have an impact and grow in a nurturing environment.
As Executive Director at Maxim, Veronique currently develops strategies that could fuel the company’s growth and evolution. Her duties include proposing plans for market reach expansion, price reduction, and innovation, as well as training new team members and fostering their professional growth.
Her career and professional journey are a clear example of how young electronic engineers can reach beyond their initial goals and fulfill their potential in the EE Industry, irrespective of their gender.