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From Intern to Engineer to Program Manager: Finding Your Path at Intel Germany

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If you’re thinking of joining the tech world, then Intel is a great place to find a role tailored to your interests and skills. Just take it from Suganya Athimuthu, a program manager at Intel Germany. We recently spoke with her about the advantages of starting with an internship at Intel and her career journey so far. Read more about how kicking off as a software development engineer helped Suganya expand her skill sets, why candidates from all over the world are drawn to Intel and how she encourages women to join the tech industry.

You actually started at Intel with an
internship. Could you tell us more about your career path?

I finished my master’s degree in Germany and came to Munich because of its opportunities—Intel is one of the companies that has a site here. I started with an internship and then moved on to doing my thesis with the same team. I was recruited for a software developer position, and soon after that I received the opportunity to move to the program management role. I didn't want to leave software development, but I also wanted to try new things. I’m currently a program manager working with teams from around the world, organizing the roadmap and coordinating releases for the Intel System Debugger. I also solve and unblock issues, as relevant. I work with the team to make sure deliverables are meeting customer commitments on time, keep our customers content and improve their time to solution.


What has your experience at Intel been like so far? 

Intel is a great place to work. It is a global employer with excellent leaders. I remember my first day at the Intel office feeling excited and nervous at the same time, but my team was extremely welcoming, and I had a very supportive manager. I started as a software developer, so that helped me a lot with the program management role I have now. Experience with how the software works helps me understand what the developers are working on. Starting from the base gave me an overview of what is happening. I have great engineers and people on my team, so I’m always happy to work with them. If we have a problem that’s blocking further work, we can reach out to each other. I always wanted to work in a big company, so I was very happy when I got an opportunity to work at Intel. I love it!


Could you tell us more about what working with teams from all over the world is like? 

My scope of work is the oneAPI and Intel® System Debugger. Our System Debugger solution provides in-depth debugging and tracing of system software and IoT applications, based on Intel architecture. Our team is fairly international as we engage with other customer support engineers and Intel teams who are based in the U.S., Mexico, Taiwan, India, Malaysia and Russia. If something goes wrong, I coordinate further actions and get things done. If there’s any process mismatch or misalignment between the teams, I make sure to organize a retrospective, keep things right and stay focused. Working with different people brings different opinions, new perspectives and new ways of solving things.


You’ve been at Intel since 2018. Did you find anything particularly challenging along the way?

The main challenge would be working with people in different time zones. I do have internal calls with teams around the world and it’s quite challenging to find slots which are suitable for everyone without disturbing work-life balance.


Do you think a technical background is necessary to transfer to program management? 

I would say yes and no. Each person has different skills, so everyone brings something different to the table. For me, being a software developer before switching to program management was useful, because it helped me gain a technical understanding of the projects. It also helps me look at a goal with rationale, from both a program manager and software developer perspective. But the person coming from a management background will know additional tools and techniques on how to manage projects. It can be helpful, but there are always advantages to both backgrounds. Continuous learning, personal development and teamwork are essential to progress in every career. Intel also provides access to additional training, mentorships, webinars and conferences for its employees, which can help in their day-to-day work.


Do you have any advice for people who would like to join Intel straight out of university? 

There are a lot of opportunities; you can find anything that you are interested and passionate about. Have a can-do attitude and be ready to learn and discover new things. During the onboarding process at Intel, new employees usually get a ‘buddy’ to help in the process and get used to the team. Everyone who joins feels included. One can easily adapt to the new work environment. In my team, we have a monthly forum where we introduce new team members. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we don’t see each other very often, but we still manage to keep a personal connection between each other.


Is Munich a good city to relocate to? 

Yes! You can reach the Alps in one hour or less, so if somebody likes hiking or winter sports then Munich is the best place to relocate to. Being close to all these beautiful, scenic places is wonderful. There are a lot of expats in Munich and people speak English, so you won’t feel excluded when going out. It’s not a small city, so there are a lot of communities that you can choose from.


What would you say to women who would like to join the tech industry? 

We are actively looking for more female engineers, so if you’ve been thinking about getting into the industry, join us! There are more and more women entering the tech industry, but there is still a disparity. In addition to software development roles, Intel has other opportunities that a candidate can consider. I hope that sharing my experience can help women become interested in joining Intel. Possibly by reading this, they are given a positive example and will be encouraged to join me!


Thinking of joining the tech industry? Find out more about jobs at Intel Germany.