Elke Eckstein, executive vice president and COO of Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH (Munich, Germany)
A conversation with EE Times
| Elke Eckstein |
Executive Vice President, COO, Osram
: What is the greatest accomplishment in your career?
Elke Eckstein: There is not only one accomplishment I am most proud of when I look at my career so far. It is the whole career path and all the different experiences I was able to make that give me a feeling of pride. The semiconductor industry offered me lots of challenges in many different areas, cultures and continents. With those experiences and the constant challenges and learnings I was able to extend my knowledge, to develop my personality and management capabilities. And I am looking forward to many more challenges to come in the years ahead in this exciting, fast-moving industry.
EE Times: You are what we call a "Woman of Vision". Can you describe the "vision" that has motivated your professional decisions and choices? Are you still implementing it or have you changed direction?
Eckstein: The idea of breaking new ground or setting foot on new areas is still fascinating to me. The semiconductor industry today is the driver for almost all other industries. It stands for innovation, progress and also movement and speed. Though we are basically at the end of the food chain we are determining the performance of the others.
My extensive semiconductor experience, especially in manufacturing, was a good basis to step into the LED business at Osram, one of the market leaders with the most advanced technologies and production lines - an area with lots of potential and a bright future. Making light is exciting and there is still a good piece of that pioneering spirit left in the industry and within me that I had experienced in the beginning of the semiconductor industry back in the 80ies. And that's why my vision is to see LED and OLED lighting up the future.
EE Times: Would you say that the visibility of women in technological fields has been improving, albeit slowly?
Eckstein: When I started working in microelectronics in the early 80ies, women were an exotic experience in that industry. Over the years this has changed, as more and more women are entering technological professions. Also the understanding among men that women can deliver excellent performance has deeply changed. Especially in the US and in Asia women in top management positions are common today. Germany is lagging a bit behind; we have a lot to catch up when it comes to giving women power and visibility.
EE Times: What should be done to encourage more women to become masters of technology and science and take on greater roles in tech in general?
Eckstein: It all starts with politics creating a social environment that is encouraging women to step into technology. This starts in education at schools and universities. But it also includes greater efforts to allow women to combine career and family through integration programs, daycare institutions and many more.
Companies themselves can foster this by giving women equal opportunities. As a technology company we support newcomers and women in the organization with diversity or mentoring programs and help as role models in the organizations. We also offer daycare facilities on our Regensburg site.
At "Girls Day" we introduce schoolgirls to products, technologies and a technological working environment to transport the fascination of our industry at a very early stage in their professional career. Another example is a company-wide program for young women who combine university education with first working experiences.
Elke Eckstein was named chief operating officer at Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH in August 2008. Previously, she was vice president, Manufacturing, at AMD in Dresden, Germany, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations at the F30/38 semiconductor factory.
Elke Eckstein, a native of Franconia, began her career with Siemens' semiconductor division, which later became Infineon. From 1996 to 1998, she was in charge of the R&D department for Siemens' fab in Dresden. Eckstein was vice president of the product and technologies group at ProMos Technologies Inc., a joint venture between Infineon and Mosel Vitelic in Taiwan, before returning to Europe to become CEO of Altis Semiconductor, a joint venture between IBM and Infineon.