Who am I? | Cypress Semiconductor
Who am I?
Hassane El-Khoury is a Consulting Advisor to Cypress and Infineon.
People always ask me about my path to CEO. And the answer is simple. It wasn’t a path to CEO.
For you to understand who I am, it’s important to understand where I came from. Who I am is a culmination of my experiences, hard lessons learned and great times with great people. It’s because of my friends, family, mentors and teams around me that I stand where I do today, and for that I am truly grateful.
In addition to the supporters around me, I wouldn’t be where I am without a drive to problem solve, learn and more importantly, grow. I don’t always have the right thing to say, and I am certainly not perfect. There are times I get nervous and times I don’t want to connect with people. But these are not the moments that define who I am. The moments I define myself by are those that make me believe in a better version of myself. With a little help, a little luck and a lot of hard work, here I am.
We all take different paths and face varying degrees of crossroads. Some of the most important lessons learned in life can be found by being present and observant. As I watched my daughter and nieces over the course of our vacation a few weeks ago, I realized that my path may help the next generation navigate life to realize their own potential.
Over the years, I have learned a few things:
- Resilience is one of the hardest lessons to grow through, but well worth it.
- Focus is much easier when you take everything in small strides.
- Being loyal to those around you doesn’t just benefit them; it benefits you too.
- Being genuine is admitting that you’re not always right and that sometimes you just need a kick in the ass to grow - and that’s okay!
- Passion isn’t something you follow - it’s simply the willingness to do what you love for yourself and the people around you.
To this day, this isn’t my path to CEO, but my path to be the best person I can be: for myself, for my daughter and for you.
So that’s it. Let’s get into it.
Growing Up in Lebanon During a Period of Unrest
“What can I do with something like this to create value, to create something else, to solve a problem?”
I was born and raised in Lebanon with my parents and two sisters. When I hear people talk about their upbringing, it’s normally associated with an era of music, or something similar.
Not me. I grew up in an era of war.
No child should ever experience war, but I give my parents a lot of credit. They never allowed what happened around us to become “real”. It always seemed like the war was just what you see on T.V. and didn’t impact me directly; but it did impact me. It was a big deal.
We lived in a few different houses in Lebanon, but when things got really bad, we lived in Douala, Cameroon and Paris for short periods of time. Despite losing a few houses to the war, I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose a loved one.
I remember being woken up by the sound of missiles too close to home. When this happened, my parents would rush us into an underground storage shelter where we’d wait it out. I remember thinking that somehow, it felt safe there with everyone. When the warzone was farther away from home, my father would take us out on the balcony, where we could see missiles flying through the night sky and hear machine guns raining in the distance.
My mom worked as an anesthesiologist at the local hospital, but occasionally, wounded Lebanese soldiers would come to our house in the middle of a raging battle. She would bring them into the living room to clean and stitch up their wounds before they headed back out.
Reflecting on these memories makes me realize how hard my parents worked. Despite what was going on around us, they never let it get them down. When bad things happened, we picked up and started again. When we lost one home after another, we’d move to the next one and make new memories. It seems like when life knocked them down, they just got back up to do it again – never giving up. My parents worked incredibly hard to provide us with a good life; they worked multiple jobs and always did the right thing for our family.
This was the first lesson I learned through my parents: Resilience.
My parents were my first role models and remain so to this day; they always supported and encouraged my crazy curiosity. I tinkered a lot as a kid - always looking to build something or take something apart to repurpose it.
The first “project” I remember is taking apart a remote-controlled car. I took it apart because I wanted to have a tool that would actuate wirelessly. I had no idea how it was done, but at the time, I was amazed that you could move a lever on one side of the room and the motor would run on the other side of the room. The truth was, I didn’t care about the toy car; I was more excited about turning the pieces into something else. The pieces of that toy car became a small handheld light - the metal on metal contact turned the light on. Due to the unrest in the region, we dealt with regular blackouts making a small light extremely handy.
My dad would sometimes get home from work while it was dark. I would go downstairs and light his way up the steps. He was excited about it until he found out that my invention came from taking my present apart. To this day, I think he let me off easier than he would have if I hadn’t created something with it. Most kids tend to break things, but I always used toys to make something new. From that point forward, I was fascinated by technology. I was obsessed with everything from computers to PCB starter kits to tech magazines.
Resilience in my life took accepting the fact that change is inevitable, but that constant change only made me a better version of myself. I still look back on the times where it would have been easy to quit and appreciate the fact that I was able to continue moving forward.