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AMD Looking To Ramp Up Engineering Team In India

Semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is looking to strengthen its India team, with focus on building teams to work on artificial intelligence and wireless technology, says Ruth Cotter, senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, human resources and investor relations at the Santa Clara, California-headquartered company. In an interview with ET, Cotter says the company is also looking to increase the number of women engineers in an effort to strengthen its diversity numbers.

Q: What is the contribution of the India team to global operations? What are your hiring targets here? 

Cotter: We are a product-led company, and to build great products we have to have great engineering capability and capacity. We are 1,600+ employees in India, of which about 1,500+ are engineers and they are pretty much evenly split between Bengaluru and Hyderabad. We have been doing a lot of hiring to strengthen this team as they take on more responsibilities and ownership of our product roadmap. We grew by about 25% in 2018 and that momentum will continue in 2019. The team in India have a role to play in every major product coming out of the company; we are looking at strengthening this footprint by building teams that will work on machine intelligence, artificial intelligence and wireless technology. We also need engineers for testing and validation for our next generation server, client and graphic products. These are the growth areas for us; we are making lateral hires, but also recruiting new college graduates.

Q: How are you making investments in early talent, given that the skillsets for the semiconductor industry are fairly niche? 

Cotter: We are investing and training university students especially at the Masters’ level so that they can acquire skillsets that will make them job ready for this industry. We have something called a Co-op program, wherein we bring postgraduate students in their final year to come and work at AMD for nine months, and allow them to work on important ongoing projects early on. These students become part of project teams and they have responsibilities and autonomy in their roles. If they perform well, they stand the chance to get hired as full-time employees in the company upon graduation. In 2017, we had about 35 co-ops, in 2018 that number nearly doubled. 95% of the co-ops were recruited last year.

Q: What does the roadmap for this year look like, given that the company is celebrating its 50th year? 

Cotter: This year is exciting because we are also growing our business footprint in India. We recently appointed Darren Grasby as the chief sales officer in the company – he has just restructured his organisation and brought in new leadership for his team in India as a stand-alone mega-region. We are expanding our investment to grow business opportunities here. Our CEO Lisa Su has been focused on building great products at AMD, especially in the space of high-performance computing. We wanted to differentiate ourselves in the market by building HPC products whether that is for PCs, datacentre, or graphics. To sustain the vision of our roadmap, we need good talent. So here in India like everywhere else – the focus has been to build the right talent that will help realise the products on that roadmap. Last year, our stock prices went up by 80%, and we added $1.2 billion in revenue to the company. We are excited about what we have set out to do in the coming 2-3 years.

Q: How are you focusing on diversity and inclusion? 

Cotter: One of the ways we address D&I is through our employee resource groups. We have AWF, which is AMD Women’s Forum – it focuses on strengthening the presence and contribution of women to build an innovative company. The team meets monthly to undertake several networking, skill building and mentoring activities. We have a female CEO, I am part of the AMD executive leadership and Jaya Jagadish is our India engineering lead. This is a testimony to the focus we have in bringing more women to leadership roles within the company. In India, we have about 21% female employees. We definitely want to strengthen this number, particularly in engineering. We want to make sure women employees stay, grow and are able to fulfill their career aspirations at AMD. We also have AMD Pride and AMD ally groups that promote a positive and inclusive environment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, through various workplace collaborations.―Business Telegraph

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