Buongiorno, I greet Paul Grimme, Tuesday, (Sept. 15), during a telephone interview, milking my pedestrian knowledge of Italian to acknowledge a major career shift in the life of the STMicroelectronics NV executive.
The last six months have been quite eventful and life altering for Grimme and his family. In April, after more than two decades at the former Motorola Semiconductor Products Group and Freescale Semiconductor, Grimme joined ST as deputy head of the Geneva-based chipmaker's automotive products group.
Head of STMicroelectronics Automotive Products Group
The move required Grimme to relocate from Austin, Texas, to Milan, Italy, from where he commutes regularly to ST's head office in Switzerland and other European city centers as well as China, which analysts said is shaping up to overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest market for automobiles.
"I am sitting here in a car on the way from Geneva to Versailles, having spent time in Stuttgart, Munich and Milan," Grimme said. "The perspective from here makes you stop and ask 'how did I get here after spending so much time with one company in the middle of Texas.' It's a little bit difficult to comprehend except that it has some parallel with the automotive world [where things are no longer as stable as they used to be.]"
Welcome to the lives and times of today's top electronic industry executive. When industry leaders are not jetting around the world from locations in Europe, North America and Asia, to nail down deals, resolve issues, cement relationships and establish new plants, they are uprooting family members from long-term locations to new world centers as companies weave the industry supply network into an even tighter mesh in search of new opportunities, improved efficiencies and lower costs.
In Grimme's case, the move meant leaving two daughters in the United States—one is grown up and working while the other is in her final year at college—finding a suitable home for the family dog, selling the old house, finding new lodgings in Geneva and Milan and learning to speak Italian.
It wasn't until landing one early April morning at the Geneva airport with six suitcases that the full impact of his decision to join ST from Freescale where he until last September headed the microcontroller group hit Grimme and his wife. The quiet life they had lived for so long in Texas was about to get a big rush from Europe's borderless states and interconnected cities.
"We said: 'That's it. We are here now and it's time to set up shop.' Every day we've made a little progress doing all of those little things you really don't think about—setting up web access, mobile phones—in three or four different languages to boot," Grimme said. It's gratifying really to see the perspective that Europe has around issues and local and national events."
ST didn't hire Grimme to expand his knowledge of European culture. The goal was to tap his extensive knowledge of the automotive IC industry to boost the company's market share and help propel its growth in Europe, North America and in China's faster-growing market.
The chipmaker was also searching for a successor to Ugo Carena, the head of the automotive IC group who was getting ready to retire. Within months, Grimme had quickly learned the "ST Way" and on Tuesday (Sept. 22) the company announced his appointment as substantive head of the automotive IC division, replacing Carena who is staying on in a supporting role through the end of this year.
"When he joined the company in April, Paul brought a deep awareness of the market and a wealth of valuable experience to ST," said Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO of ST, in a statement. "Paul has also demonstrated that he is the right person to carry on ST's success story in automotive semiconductors."