The following interview was conducted by mobile phone by Peter Clarke from his home in London to Sir Robin Saxby (shown left), chairman of processor technology licensor ARM Holdings plc, as he sat in the garden of an English country pub. The conversation almost certainly made use of two ARM processor cores and possibly more. It was conducted shortly after ARM (Cambridge, England) announced Saxby would step down as chairman of the board of directors on Oct. 1, 2006. At the same time the company had announced that Saxby would retain the title of Chairman Emeritus for one year while he served as President of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, a newly-formed U.K. professional body for engineers.
EE Times: Why are you choosing to step away from ARM at this time?
Sir Robin Saxby: I've been at ARM a considerable time, just about since it was founded [in 1990] and I've been chairman since 2001. That's five years. Teams need to change to rejuvenate themselves and I am also aware that a lot of people have the ability to stay beyond their "sell-by date".
I look at the performance of ARM and I have to ask: "What I can do for the company if I stay on?"
Another factor is that for successful planning it is important to go slightly faster than you might otherwise want to. This move is good for Warren [East, chief executive officer], it is good for Doug [Dunn, non-executive director set to become ARM's next chairman] and it's good for me.
Finally, I have become very involved with the IET and am set to become its president in October. So the timing is right.
I believe there is a lot we can do with the IET in training and education. We've got some great magazines being published there, for engineers and managers. And we've got Flipside for the kids, which is great.
And I will still be highly involved with ARM. The chairman emeritus role will create a new dynamic at the company. I will still have access to people, the executives and the young engineers at the company keeping me in touch and I expect to go out speaking for, and to, the industry using ARM as an example.
EE Times: Some people may notice that you are stepping down as chairman in favor of an executive, albeit a highly experienced one in Doug Dunn, who at 62 is older than you are.
Sir Robin Saxby: I wouldn't pay attention to that.
You have to be very objective about your ability to add value. If players stay in one place too long it slows up the development of the organization. As I have said, I don't step down on October 1, I step into a different role. The board has gone for Doug Dunn to replace me and it's a great choice. He has huge experience and great skill.
Doug retired from ASM Lithography in 2004 [as president and chief executive officer] but he has recharged his batteries and is ready to go. Prior to ASML he had senior jobs with Philips and before that he was at Plessey. He has a great background.