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A trailblazing tale: Dr. Beth Yam's rise to the top of Malaysia's manufacturing landscape

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Dr. Beth Wei Yin Yam is Intel Malaysia’s first female principal engineer and is currently the factory manager for Penang Disaggregation Manufacturing where Intel has invested an additional USD 7 billion for IDM 2.0 Capacity Expansion that includes advanced semiconductor packaging technology.

Fresh out of college in 2000, a young engineer eagerly joined the ranks of Intel Malaysia. She hoped this opportunity would boost her career, but little did she realize just how true that would turn out to be. 

Fast forward 23 years. Today, Dr. Beth Yam is a respected leader in Malaysia's manufacturing industry, having built a long and noteworthy career at Intel. She has held leadership positions as Materials Development Manager, Module Group Leader, New Product Introduction Program Manager & Module Engineering Department Manager. We caught up with Dr. Yam to discuss her early years, current priorities and her team’s razor-sharp focus on bringing to life Intel’s IDM 2.0 strategy, a differentiated and winning strategy that’s only available to Intel, giving us the ability to design the best products and manufacture them in the best way possible, every time.

Intel Malaysia's Pelican Project: Driving a momentous first for the industry

As part of Intel Malaysia's ambitious Pelican Project, Dr. Yam plays a critical role in expanding Intel's manufacturing footprint in Malaysia. The project involves a substantial investment of USD 7 billion and aims to revolutionize modular manufacturing, create job opportunities and nurture a highly skilled workforce. Dr. Yam explains, "Modular manufacturing is a disruptive technology with exponential possibilities. When incorporated into Intel’s IDM 2.0 strategy, it makes choosing the best IP blocks at the die level more efficient, which in turn allows Intel to lead the market with superior products."

Dr. Yam is thrilled to spearhead this multifaceted initiative that brings significant value to the nation and addresses the existing skill gaps in the engineering job market. What part excites her the most? "The facility has been geared for success and excellence from the ground up. The Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0-ready cutting-edge unit with auto data-feed systems incorporates Level-8 automation. It offers end-to-end modular manufacturing capabilities with a 710,000-square-foot cleanroom with two levels of manufacturing space. The Pelican Project will be our first automated materials delivery system and advanced packaging site outside the United States. It will also come with additional failure analysis techniques, facilities requirements, etc. Overall, the Pelican Project will be vital in shaping the nation's engineering landscape."

Team building and award-winning diversity, equity and inclusion form the cornerstones of Dr. Yam’s leadership.Team building and award-winning diversity, equity and inclusion form the cornerstones of Dr. Yam’s leadership.

Shattering barriers and championing inclusion: Dr. Beth Yam on becoming Intel Malaysia’s first female principal engineer

As Intel's first female principal engineer from Malaysia in 2016, Dr. Yam has a keen perspective on what it means to make that first foray into uncharted territory. "When I became Intel's first female principal engineer and even today, I am confident of taking on the challenges that came with the role because Intel has given me all the tools I need to succeed.”

Dr. Yam is equally passionate about ushering in a new generation of women in STEM. In 2022, she was one of the senior leaders selected as Executive Inclusion Advocates for exemplifying inclusion in their roles. When asked about her personal experience at both ends of the inclusivity spectrum — being both a team member and a leader — Dr. Yam has an enriching perspective.

"Focus on the journey and the process rather than getting caught up solely in job titles. The rest will naturally fall into place when you find joy in the process. It's crucial to maintain a positive mindset even during difficult times and turn setbacks into valuable learning experiences.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to take a 'detour' in your career to prioritize family commitments. Speaking from my personal experience, around ten years ago, when my children were still little, I could not be away from them for my project. I discussed alternatives with my manager, and we worked out a solution, wherein I would take multiple shorter trips to the US instead of one long trip. This ensured a very successful product transfer.”

Dr. Yam’s daughter, Chelsea Yow Xinyi, interned with Intel last year while pursuing her academics at the University of Leeds, UK. She worked on and learned about fundamentals in failure analysis, i.e., sample preparations, various instrumentations and their purposes.Dr. Yam’s daughter, Chelsea Yow Xinyi, interned with Intel last year while pursuing her academics at the University of Leeds, UK. She worked on and learned about fundamentals in failure analysis, i.e., sample preparations, various instrumentations and their purposes.

Beyond the factory floor: The life of a multifaceted leader

Dr. Yam is adept at juggling multiple organizational roles. At the same time, she is a staunch advocate of healthy work-life balance and finding fulfillment outside of work. "Outside of my professional commitments, I am fully engaged in my personal life as a daughter, wife and mother. Tennis has become a great, shared interest for my family, serving as a regular workout and a source of quality family time."

Whether working on a project or serving up aces on the tennis court, Dr. Yam is constantly looking for a brighter future and actively helping shape that outcome. She is on the international editorial board of Elsevier for the Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing journal. Elsevier is one of the world's top three largest academic publishers with a long and rich history in the educational and professional science and healthcare space.

"I keep emphasizing that women and young girls need support and encouragement to flourish in this field. That is why I actively engage with causes supporting women in STEM.” Dr. Yam founded Women in Zcience (WiZ) in 2017, a collaborative event with Intel Malaysia, Tech Dome Penang and Penang Women's Development Corporation (PWDC). WiZ inspires secondary students, especially girls, to pursue STEM studies and offers workshops on drone technology, science and design. The Pelican Project also provides university grants and sponsorships to support students in STEM.

 

Dr. Yam at the launch of the 7th Women in Zcience (WiZ) at Tech Dome Penang in 2023, an event she founded.Dr. Yam at the launch of the 7th Women in Zcience (WiZ) at Tech Dome Penang in 2023, an event she founded.

Two decades of excellence distilled into two tips for success

It would be nearly impossible to bring you two critical takeaways from Dr. Yam's 20+ years at Intel. She, however, was up for the challenge.

"I firmly believe in the practice of KEYS, which stands for Keep Empowering Yourself Successfully. Know what you want and work for it. It's OK if you do not have the complete requirements before fulfilling a position. Have the learning aptitude — be curious and never stop learning. The second tip would be to find the right mentor. Seek a mentor who will help you grow in a certain area of improvement. Work closely with this mentor towards improving your skill set. This is a great way to network, learn and grow."

Intel Malaysia is experiencing rapid growth and seeking talented individuals with knowledge and expertise in cutting-edge areas such as photolithography, thin film deposition, etching, electroplating, assembly and more. Exciting leadership positions, including group leaders and department engineering managers, offer the chance to shape strategic plans and drive success. To learn more about career opportunities and life at Intel Malaysia, click here.