Automated Out of a Job | Cypress Semiconductor
Automated Out of a Job
Hassane El-Khoury is a Consulting Advisor to Cypress and Infineon.
My story isn’t just a path to CEO, it’s a path to be the best version of myself. Welcome to my blog series #KnowOurCEO. The purpose of this series is to tell you a little bit about myself and what made me into the person I am today. If you missed my last blog, I told you a bit about my big move from Lebanon to Michigan. I’d adjusted to life in the U.S. and landed my first after college job.
"I do my work in two hours a day and I cannot pretend to work for eight hours. I'm bored out of my mind. I read the Internet; I didn't think the Internet had an end. I think I reached it."
I graduated on time and within a few months into the job, my manager mentioned an opportunity to move to Germany on an expat assignment. Of course, I volunteered and ended up moving to Frankfurt, Germany.
Living in Germany, I met my best friend, Robert Russell. Robert and I, along with two other expats, discovered all of Europe - travelling the continent, witnessing new cultures, languages and everything these cities had to offer. It was incredible.
After working abroad for three years, I knew I wanted to get back to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree. I knew I didn’t want an MBA, but I also didn’t want a technical degree. I ended up with a master’s degree in Engineering Management, which was about 50 percent MBA and 50 percent Engineering. I learned technical decision making, probability and risk analysis, and behavior leadership - all the while, most of my learning still came from on the job applications as an engineer at Continental.
Once I graduated with my master’s degree, another opportunity to go abroad became available. This time in Japan. I stayed in a hotel for a few months and then decided to get an apartment. Picture a tiny place with tatami floors and a small mattress against the wall. Very extravagant!
While I lived there, I always went out to play darts and pool; I tried to immerse myself with everyone that I met. I absolutely loved the culture and wanted to soak in as much as I could. As much as I immersed myself, it was difficult not knowing how to read or speak Japanese.
About a year later, I moved back to the U.S. I continued to focus on automation, learning something new everyday and creating tools to increase efficiency in my work. The more I automated, the more extra time I had on my hands. While one test was running, I could be learning something new and going outside of my comfort zone. I ended up automating myself out of a job at Continental.
I told my manager that I’d be looking for a new job because I wanted to make sure that someone could take on my responsibilities. It was the least I could do for the team that, at that point, taught me everything I knew and had been loyal to me since before my career took off.
"Being loyal to those around you doesn’t just benefit them; it benefits you too."
After putting my resume out, a recruiter contacted me about an opportunity at Cypress as an application engineer for the PSoC® group in Washington. I interviewed with a few people - some of which are still at Cypress. I started to learn about PSoC and I remember thinking how much more I could have done at Continental if I had known about PSoC. At the time, Cypress was venturing into automotive and they needed a technical resource to help with their journey, so I accepted the job, packed up my house, and made the cross-country journey from Michigan to Washington.
My first task at Cypress was to get the Controller Area Network (CAN) IP certified. I got that task done and was on to the next. We had a lot of challenge getting the PSoC 3 product to market, which impeded our ability to get into the automotive market. I remember thinking to myself that I was about to get bored and would probably end up leaving. I recognized that this was one of those crossroads where I needed to figure out where my path would go from here. Instead of assuming it was time to leave, I started to look at opportunities inside Cypress. In my thirst for continuous learning, I knew the possibilities were limitless as long as I focused on expanding my knowledge.
I remember my first meeting with T.J., the founder and, at the time, CEO of Cypress. I was attending the design team technical review and found myself across the table from him. I sat quietly until someone said something inaccurate. At that point, I spoke up. I remember T.J. swiveling around in his chair and looking at me with piercing eyes.
Without breaking his gaze, he asked me about automotive systems, voltage range, operating temperature and so on for about 15 minutes.
It was efficient, of course, but I think it proved to T.J. that to be successful in automotive, we needed to know systems, and not only silicon.
After that, I carried on with my work in getting PSoC 3 to cross the finish line and stumbled on CapSense®. I knew that the end goal was CapSense in cars, but I didn’t immediately know how to create a strategy to move forward.
I went to Augusto de Oliveira, who was the CTO of Cypress’ Memory and Data Communications division at the time and told him about my ideas. He helped me create a strategy and present it to my management. It was then that I was offered a position, in San Jose, as a program manager to get it off the ground.