At TechStory, we had the opportunity to interview Rituparna Mandal, the General Manager of Mediatek. She is at the forefront of the semiconductor industry, equipped with technical expertise and innovative experiences. We spoke with her to discuss some of the strategies that have specifically been undertaken by Mediatek, her views on the various approaches that should be taken by large corporations, as well as the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on Mediatek’s various internal policies.
1. Can you throw some light on new technologies that you are working on at MediaTek’s R&D centre?
Over the last year, MediaTek, as a company, has become a driver of new technologies. From 3-nanometer process technology to the adoption of new processor cores, MediaTek is one of the first companies to work on the latest arm for the new smartphone projects. We are also at the forefront of 5G technology, with our Dimensity family of chips. Whether it is a millimeter wave or 5G technology, we are leading the race. Our R&D centers are working on updating these innovative technologies while also diversifying our portfolio, in terms of edge Internet of Things solutions and basic design execution. Previously, MediaTek was very focused on mobile technology, be it feature phones or smartphones, but now we have also made progress in the Smart Home applications zone.
In fact, the complete SoC for Chromebooks was designed at MediaTek’s Bangalore R&D Centre. Further, our R&D facilities are also working on automobile IoT with our neuro pilot programs. All the technologies that we are developing, whether it is 5G enablement or technology for faster devices and better Artificial Intelligence, are focused on enabling improved user experiences for our partners and end customers.
2. How essential is it for corporations to train the future workforce? Is it essential for companies to have their own skilling platforms?
Every corporation must focus on sharpening the sword, and internal training is something we strongly focus on. MediaTek believes in investing in the growth and development of our employees and we train the future workforce through a two-pronged program that involves partnering with external teams and creating internal training modules. Since we are in the hardware chip design process, we partner with third-party vendors on a lot of the internal training aspects.
Additionally, we offer employees internal e-learning platforms that everybody across the board can access to upskill themselves. Our training modules include everything from professional skills and technical training to sessions in particular programming languages and hardware design. Apart from these modules, we also have soft skills and leadership training sessions on our platform. An example of this initiative is the GetAbstract application which features summaries of global books on leadership. Further, for the entry-level workforce, we have a campus to corporate programs which help them transition to workplace culture. Once our employees ascend to lead positions, they are offered technical training sessions relevant to their responsibilities. To keep employees driven and motivated, we also focus on conducting tech talks within teams and across teams. At times, these discussions bring the entire global team on a singular platform to drive change in the ecosystem.
3. What kind of amendments have you made in your HR Policies post pandemic?
The first amendment we have made, from an HR perspective, is offering every employee the choice of working from home. We have continuously reviewed the on-ground situation and updated employees about work structures and requirements. This has led to increased flexibility and productivity among employees. The second major amendment has been the inclusion of COVID coverage under the employee insurance package. This measure also takes care of the home quarantine package whereby, even if the employee is home quarantined, there is a certain package that takes care of them. We instituted the care packages in two tranches – last year, care packages were released to all employees, helping them better manage remote work and other responsibilities. Everything from ergonomic office chairs and desks, to faster routers and better broadband connections, was provided to ease the work from home transition.
This year, our care package was focused on employee wellness and included yoga classes, fitness and meditation sessions and other activities boosting mental and physical wellness. We also introduced the EAP or Employee Assistance Program for the mental wellbeing of employees. Many of our employees have undergone emotional trauma and distress. They have seen their loved ones pass away or suffer from the illness in this last one year and that is something no one is prepared for. The EAP is a counselling service that all employees can avail and benefit from.
Another important amendment has been the recognition that, owing to the pandemic, people were unable to enjoy vacations or leaves. We have allowed employees to accrue those leaves, and we have also introduced the COVID leave. It says that you can kind of accrue and take for a longer time, when things are back to normal, you can move that leaves, and hopefully avail of it to go on vacation.
4. Remote working/ WFH has opened up more opportunities for Women Techies than ever before. What are your views on it?
The pandemic has certainly opened up many opportunities for working women and WFH has given them more flexibility. Women already have many responsibilities to take care of and their stress is, consequently, higher. WFH has managed to reduce some of this stress. The situation is also beneficial for pregnant employees. In our team, two women employees were expecting and one of them just delivered her baby. Both of them said that WFH has been much easier as they didn’t have to go through the stress of daily commute to and from the office.
Further, even post-delivery, it is easier to WFH and take care of the newborn when compared to the alternative. Also, while working from home, all employees have a level playing ground, which boosts women’s confidence in their capabilities and offerings. However, despite all the benefits, it is also true that women employees still have to take care of the major chunk of household work. Unless this responsibility is evenly divided, it is difficult to fully empower women employees.
5. What are the futuristic trends that will reshape hiring in the semiconductor industry?
Interdisciplinary knowledge is one of the major trends which will reshape hiring in the semiconductor industry. Knowledge of not only what they do, but also of everything related to that field, will become more important while hiring employees, be it freshers or experienced candidates. People with broader knowledge of relevant sectors and technologies will be preferred over candidates who are knowledgeable in only one field. With hybrid work models gaining precedence, possessing leadership skills like the ability to connect with people, and being proactive towards work and upskilling has become very important. The softer aspects of work-life, such as being a team player, communicating remotely, and collaborating efficiently will become essential. Amalgamating cultures across the board will be imperative while hiring new employees and this will reshape hiring across industries.