I’ve learned that it is important to listen to your instincts and make sure you do something that you are passionate about. And never be afraid to ask questions.

I didn’t plan to become an engineer or work in the semiconductor industry. While I’ve always been good at math and science, I originally thought I would major in French since I loved languages and imagined travelling the world as a translator.

However, I soon realized that a French major was all about writing numerous papers (in French no less), which I was not excited about. I had wonderful science and engineering professors in both college and graduate school and through this experience realized that science was my passion. I also had a great research advisor in graduate school. He was a fabulous technologist, but more importantly, knew how to communicate science and technology. He illustrated to me the power of communication – especially when it comes to communicating technical concepts.

This is where my interest in marketing came from. To this day, I still get great satisfaction explaining complex technical problems or concepts to a layman.

My first job out of graduate school was as a process engineer where I worked on the front lines in customer fabrication labs or “fabs,” to deliver technology solutions. In this role, I traveled the world and saw firsthand the technical challenges faced by customers, and I also saw that sometimes the products that were offered to customers didn’t always hit the mark. I realized that I wanted to move my career in a direction where I would be in a position to influence product direction early on.

I’m proud to say that I can do that now in my role in product marketing at Applied Materials. To do this effectively, it’s important to tell a technology story to both customers and internal business partners in order to deliver the best solutions for customers.

I’ve learned that in order to be a successful leader, it is important to always think not one, but two or three steps ahead, with a clear vision of the end state in sight, whether that’s a technology solution, market share or customer penetration. To this end, I’m always asking questions: What next? And after that? And after that? You have to think several steps ahead in order to anticipate opportunities and challenges and plan strategies in response.