Just in time for Mother’s Day, we met with Chantelle Lee from the Hsinchu City office and Tan Lai Teng from the Kuala Lumpur office to learn more about their experience as mothers and Women in Intel.
Our respective Intel journeys
“I joined Intel Taiwan’s Global External Manufacturing and Sourcing (GEMS) department in November 2021,” says Chantelle. Before assuming her present role as a Supply Line Manager, Chantelle worked with a local semiconductor company for 14 years. She has a jovial five-year-old who’s just started playing basketball in kindergarten and counts drawing and singing old songs among his interests.
“My journey with Intel started in 2001 at the Penang office, where I worked at the backend to help define products on roadmaps”, Lai Teng reminisces. With over two decades of experience in Malaysia and Singapore, Lai Teng’s latest career move is her ninth role in Intel: she’s transitioning from the post of Chief of Staff for the Asia territory region to helming the company’s Malaysian and Indonesian markets as Enterprise Sales Director. Prior to the transition, Lai Teng made school holiday trips between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter to spend family time back in Malaysia.
Motherhood at Intel
When discussing her personal experience, Lai Teng warmly credits the role Intel’s culture has played in empowering her as a leader, mother, and colleague. “Looking back, I can safely say that I’ve only made it because I received support and understanding from my family and colleagues,” she shares. “I am grateful for the inclusive culture we have at Intel, which encourages everyone to support each other.”
This inclusivity is the cornerstone of Allies at Intel, which Lai Teng says has had a positive impact on parenthood in a corporate setting. “The culture of Allies at Intel has helped both working mothers and fathers succeed by promoting a work environment built on empathy, understanding and results,” she explains. (Allies at Intel is an initiative which aims to attract, integrate, develop, and retain female talents in the workforce via a variety of employee-centric programs.)
“At the end of the day, what matters is how effective we are as a team,” Lai Teng emphasizes. “My managers and colleagues over the years have hailed from diverse cultural backgrounds, and all of them have been so supportive at different stages of my motherhood journey.”
As a new member of Intel, Chantelle noticed this encouraging environment, a turnaround from what she had experienced. “Prior to Intel, I often felt like I was pressured to choose my son over my responsibilities at work,” she relates.
Incidents such as health emergencies at school are common challenges to dual-income households such as Chantelle’s, as they require quick parental action to ensure vulnerable young ones are protected. Chantelle and her husband have had to compromise on important work meetings to be present for their son in sudden situations such as these.
Similarly, deviations from a rigid work schedule were also difficult. “In my previous workplace, once you clock in for the day, you’re expected to be at your desk from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” Chantelle reveals. “I would always feel guilty when I had to step out of the office early to pick my son up from school.
“Working in Intel has shown me that it doesn’t have to be this way. It is very inspiring to be in a collaborative environment where communication is encouraged, and results are made top priority,” she enthuses.
Chantelle highlights the importance of flexibility and crucial conversations for modern working parents. “My managers and colleagues are very understanding and accommodating to my responsibilities as a mother,” she says. “Rather than focusing on the hours I spend at my desk, my team and I have discussions towards resolving my family emergency while keeping my deliverables in check. With good communication with my team, I am able to be the best version of myself at work and at home.”
Echoing this sentiment, Lai Teng added, "Working parents are ultimately jugglers, as we wear many hats for different roles. For the most part, Intel is results-driven and flexible about the method of delivery.” She further underscores the benefits of this fluid approach on a wider scale. “The recent lockdown in Malaysia and Singapore did not disrupt our operations, while the adoption of working from home came easy for our team.”
Celebrating mothers and Mother’s Day
When asked if she has any pointers for new working mothers, Lai Teng smilingly answers, “Things will eventually fall into place. It’s okay to ask for help from family and colleagues. Have faith and trust that you will get through this phase—you’re strong enough.”
This year, Lai Teng’s family are celebrating Mother’s Day with a special appreciation lunch. Lai Teng hopes to instill a sense of respect in her children by gathering and honoring the generations of mothers in their family and not taking them for granted.
Meanwhile, Chantelle is celebrating the occasion by preparing to welcome another bundle of joy into the world. “My second child is due for delivery in May 2022. For the record, I did not know that I was pregnant during my interview with Intel,” she laughs.
The expectant mother says that her condition was well-received at work, which both surprised and delighted her. “My manager was not too surprised when I told her about my pregnancy. She was genuinely happy, congratulated me for the news and asked about my preparations. My colleagues are happy for me as well and expressed their well-wishes for me and the baby.” In the meantime, Chantelle and every working mother at Intel can continue to count on a listening, inclusive culture committed to proper support—demonstrative of our aspirations to be the Workplace of Choice for Women.
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