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Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Cypress Semiconductor

Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hassane El-Khoury is a Consulting Advisor to Cypress and Infineon.

COVID-19 has changed daily life as we know it. However temporary, we are living in unprecedented times and emotions are running high. This pandemic will most certainly have lasting effects on our families, businesses and communities.

As a father of a beautiful seven-and-a-half-year-old girl, Lea, I am reminded every day how precious life is. Since she was born, I wanted to be the one to show her the beauty and mystery the world has to offer. I’ve wanted to share the amazing and diverse cultures that make the world larger than we can imagine.

If you’re a parent, you may understand - sometimes kids ask questions that have seemingly impossible answers. While I don’t always have the right answers for Lea, I know one thing for sure: we all must act towards strangers as we would with our family. Despite the challenges we face because of this virus, I hope we all choose to embody kindness and giving above all else.

As the CEO of Cypress, I have taken the time to check on our employees around the globe. While continuing our business is a priority, I am reminded that it’s our people who make us successful. Employee health and wellness is now more important than ever. Without our most valued asset, our employees, Cypress would not exist. The Cypress community has weathered many challenges and we most certainly will come out of this COVID-19 situation as a stronger team.

Over the last two weeks, while abiding by the “work from home” order we issued to our worldwide teams, I have had more time to reflect on the situation we find ourselves in. The news, running 24/7, hasn’t been the most positive and I realized that we have an opportunity to change the trajectory of our thinking and impact. I know that I am blessed to live the life I have – from the people I hold dear to the opportunities I have been afforded through sheer determination to overcome every challenge that has presented itself over the past 40 years.

Beyond your homes and workplaces, I urge each of you to look around your community and give. Nothing saddens me more than seeing pictures of people who are not able to get basic necessities to have a decent stay in their own home. Why? Because many in our own communities, likely out of fear, are hoarding more than they need to sustain a potentially extended “shelter in place” period. Let that fear settle and change your mindset. Giving back can be a few moments out of your day, a simple gesture, with a big impact. I bring this up to remind you that giving isn’t always monetary. Kindness, a helping hand, or even a simple smile and wave can go a long way, especially in times like these.

I am home. I am not going out. With the shelter in place orders in Austin, Texas and California, I am unable to see my daughter. We now must rely on video and phone calls to communicate and see each other. I am sure others have similarly hard situations they are dealing with. Remember, we are in this together. I changed my diet because things are not the norm anymore, and we all have to adjust and use what we are blessed to have at our disposal. I have access to soap and water to wash my hands, so I gave away my hand sanitizer and wipes to one of the nicest people I interacted with: my UPS delivery woman. She needs it more than I do with the service she is providing to all of us in the community, so we can stay home. You can do the same - give what you have in your closet and probably will not use, to someone who needs it more than you do, AND is providing you and your neighbors a service.

Each of us has a duty to our families, colleagues, neighbors and strangers to heed the directives put in place by our employers and local and federal governments. We each must take this outbreak seriously and stay healthy. Stay at home if you can, even if the directive is lifted. We can help by letting people who are not as fortunate to be able to work from home go back to their jobs with a chance to stay healthy themselves and provide for their families. We are living in a time where our actions do not only affect one person. The ripple effect of our choices has the potential to impact every person we encounter and far beyond, no matter what age group you belong to.

The question each of us needs to ask ourselves, is this: What impact do you want to have?

When I asked myself that question, there was a sense of clarity. Instead of seeing the devastation on our medical professionals’ faces when they realized their supplies were running low and potentially exposing them even further to the virus, or our first responders answering the call for help from our family members and neighbors, I saw a problem that needed to be solved. While there are many essential businesses still operating at full capacity, there are just as many, if not more, operating with reduced staffing. Under normal operations at our manufacturing fab here in Austin, we use the same masks, clean room gowns, disposable gloves and disinfectant that our medical professionals and first responders do. Sure, holding on to them may save money when we become fully operational again, but what is the bigger cost? As an executive, I am always looking at the bottom line and how to increase the overall value of my company. It is at times like we are faced with now, that a different bottom line is elevated. My need to keep these items available for my team in the future is NOT more important than potentially saving a life.

Over the last week, we have pulled all of our supplies that can be used to fight this virus and donated them where they are needed the most – on the front lines with our doctors, nurses, firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Over 1,300 N95 masks and 45 clean room gowns were given to the City of Austin so they could be distributed to those who need them more than we do at this time. We will solve our problem when we are fully operational again.

“We are incredibly appreciative of the help we are receiving from the private sector. The partnership we have developed with Cypress just in the last few weeks has helped us in our efforts immensely,” shared Bryce Bencivengo, Public Information and Marketing Manager for the City of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “Containing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting Austinites is going to be an effort that everyone will have a role to play. Businesses sharing with us what they can is critical to being as prepared as possible as this situation evolves.”

In addition, we have launched a donation campaign through Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. We have donated $120,000 to help feed the most impacted members of our community. Our goal is to see that number more than doubled by our employees and peers. With the company focusing on the San Jose community, I have focused on the Austin community with the same drive to support the local food bank. We all need to do something. It’s not the scale of our action, it is the action itself.

“In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Second Harvest has had to completely revamp our operations to deliver food in the safest and most efficient method possible. We’ve seen the volume of clients increase at every distribution site, and the number of calls our Food Connection hotline receives has quadrupled. People whose jobs were eliminated or had their hours cut are now out of work,” shared Leslie Bacho, CEO of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. “Cypress’ support is coming at a pivotal moment and will help us meet the growing need in our community.”

Prior to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Cypress purchased 300 individual hand sanitizers and 300 individual antibacterial wipes for our IndyCar racing program guests. As we were weighing various needs within Santa Clara County, I started thinking about a portion of our community that would not easily have access to soap and water; or money to purchase hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes – our homeless population. Our team in San Jose donated the items to HomeFirst, a leading provider of services, shelter and housing opportunities to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness in Santa Clara County.

I’d like to encourage my fellow leaders and problem solvers, to be the example in your community, workplace and family. I encourage you to remember that you and everyone around you is human and we can all make a difference in times like these. Humility must prevail and common decency to those around us must be the go-to response.

Not sure where you can make an impact? In addition to joining our Cypress team in donating necessary supplies to our medical professionals and first responders, and donating to our Second Harvest fundraising campaign or to the Central Texas Food Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have created COVID-19 funds to support the global efforts to prevent, detect and manage this virus.

Will you join us in changing the narrative that will be the most lasting once we tackle this challenge?

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