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Chris Kenyon on moving 8,000 miles to set up Intel Malaysia’s advanced packaging site

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Growing up in New York, Chris always had an interest in science, largely due to his father who held a doctorate in metallurgy, and his high school chemistry teacher, who further nurtured his scientific interest.

Chris went on to study chemistry at Princeton and completed his PhD at Caltech. His thesis on semiconductors and their interaction with liquids marked the start of his foray into the semiconductor world. Chris began his journey with Intel as a lithography process engineer in Portland, Oregon.

Over two decades later, Chris is now a vice president and Pelican plant manager. His latest role involves moving to Malaysia to set up the highly anticipated advanced packaging manufacturing site in Penang, which is part of the company’s Disaggregation Manufacturing Organization (DMO) expansion.

With his move to Penang on the horizon, we sat down with Chris to discuss this new chapter in his career and what the expansion means for Intel Malaysia.


New beginnings and constant growth

Reflecting on how his 25-year background in logic process technology building has contributed to his current transition, Chris says, “The idea of taking that experience and moving into the area of advanced packaging—with its technology, newness, and growth potential—is extremely exciting.”

This enthusiasm for new beginnings has served Chris well throughout his career. In 2011, he was at the forefront of Intel’s efforts to establish a landmark photomask facility in Oregon. From overseeing construction to high-volume manufacturing, Chris describes it as one of his biggest professional challenges thus far and believes this upcoming chapter in Malaysia will prove the same.

“That’s what I love about the startup experience,” he enthuses. “You frequently have little to no reference and have to make decisions—week in and week out—without multiple levels of review. Malaysia presents yet another opportunity for me, this time on a much larger scale.”


Seeking new perspectives

As someone who enjoys travelling and immersing himself in new cultures, Chris has long looked forward to an assignment abroad. While he has yet to visit Penang, he has read up extensively on the state, and his excitement for the move is shared by his entire family.

Alongside broadening his mind via travel, Chris also includes how his professional outlook has expanded with additional responsibilities. “When you’re an engineer, it’s tackling more direct technical problems,” he observes. “As a manager, you’re making connections and bringing people together.”

This awareness is part of what makes Chris seek out new voices and challenges at Intel. He elaborates, “What excites me fundamentally is looking at something and figuring how to make it better.

“As you go along, people are more talented and there’s a good chance they know how to do this better than you. It’s these new perspectives that keep me going.”


Looking ahead

Chris mentions two aspects when delving into what the DMO expansion entails for Intel Malaysia. Firstly, this will diversify the organization's portfolio. “Intel already has a big footprint in the country,” he notes, “but this move will create even more jobs, bringing about new capabilities and perspectives—which is always a good thing.”

Secondly, with the advanced packaging technologies industry projected to grow exponentially, Chris is hopeful that this will bring about longer-term results. “We’ve gotten in early with this very big investment,” he acknowledges. “Success tends to breed success, and this will be a good step ahead for us.”

Besides company prospects, Chris also anticipates working with local talents and growing the workforce in Malaysia. “Whenever there’s growth, there are new opportunities,” he says. “Many will have the chance to take on new roles, embark on training abroad, and take on new skillsets. This is going to be both fun and great for your career.”

Looking to join the pioneering DMO expansion into Malaysia? Explore careers with us here.