MADISON, Wis. — Cypress Semiconductor Corp. announced Thursday (Aug. 11) the appointment of Hassane El-Khoury, a nine-year veteran at Cypress, as the company’s new president, CEO and a member of its board of directors.
Hassane El-Khoury, Cypress CEO
El-Khoury will succeed T.J. Rodgers, Cypress’ legendary founder, who stepped down in April after having served as the company CEO for 34 years.
In a one-on-one telephone interview with EE Times, El-Khoury explained that the key to success for a semiconductor company today is to “become relevant to your customers.”
With El-Khoury at the helm, Cypress has stated a goal to become “a tech company that customers want to partner with,” said El-Khoury. “It’s easier said than done. It will take a lot of work to make that transformation.”
Asked what qualifies him as CEO, El-Khoury cited his strong background in “a system-level approach” to solutions, and “solutions selling.” He noted, “Since I joined Cypress nine years ago, I’ve never lost my outsider perspective for what the semiconductor business must do.”
With more than eight years as a system engineer at Continental Automotive Systems, a large tier one company, El-Khoury believes he was able to contribute to the success of Cypress’ automotive group. A case in point is the leading position Cypress carved out in automotive — instrument clusters, for example. With the company’s TrueTouch solution, Cypress is number one on the automotive Human-Machine Interface market, he stressed.
Similarly, El-Khoury has brought “combined software and hardware solutions” to the company’s Programmable Systems Division.
Under the new leadership, Cypress is poised to bring “much bigger focus on solutions” and “everything that requires our customers to become successful,” El-Khoury explained.
Asked if this approach is akin to a module business, El-Khoury said: “No.” He noted that Cypress is not in a module business. However, the company will make sure all parts are on board and they are all working together, he explained. “We are not going to give our customers a bunch of chips and tell them to go fish.”
What he learned from T.J.
When he joined Cypress nine years ago, El-Khoury acknowledged, “I knew very little of semiconductor technology. T.J. taught me [silicon] technology, operational excellence [at fab], and product development — why and what needs to be made on silicon.”
To fill Rodgers’ shoes at Cypress is no cakewalk. With the bold and outspoken Rodgers sitting at the top 34 years, a few corporate insiders described Cypress as a company known for “management by intimidation.”
Asked to characterize Cypress’ corporate culture, El-Khoury said, “It’s a strong culture, but it’s not a negative culture. It’s a great hard-working culture.”
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