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A whole new world: Mohan Maheswaran

Mohan Maheswaran isn’t interested in people who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. No, he wants employees who are willing to live by the company values, even when they clock off for the day.

Mohan Maheswaran, CEO of Semtech Corporation

So when he came on board as Semtech Corporation’s President and CEO in 2006, the first thing Mohan did was implement a set of core values, and then ensure that each and every staff member appreciated them.

“I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to tolerate anyone disrespecting the core values of teamwork, integrity and respect,” he explains. “It’s important for every single employee to live and breathe those same values at home too. Because if you don’t value those things, then you don’t belong in the company.”

Mohan explains that with offices around the world, from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China to Switzerland, Canada and the US, Semtech desperately needed a clear, consolidated set of values that could be instilled in all staff, regardless of their location. The result was a unified team, confident in their goals and approach to business.

“We now have a culture of innovation and of trying to differentiate,” he says. “Even though we may not be the largest semiconductor company, it’s very clear when you look at our customer base and partners that our competitors would love to have the portfolio we have – and that’s because they respect what we do, and how we do it. I’ve had employees tell me that they wake up every day and want to go into work, that they love what they do because Semtech is a company whose values align with theirs.”

Born in Sri Lanka, Mohan grew up in the UK. He obtained his BSEE from Surrey University and his MBA from Henley Management College (now Henley Business School) before holding various positions at Allayer Communications, IBM Microelectronics, Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard and Nortel Communications.

In 2001, he served as Vice President of Marketing, Business Development and Corporate Strategy of Elantec Semiconductor, before making the switch to Intersil Corporation as Executive Vice President and General Manager from 2002 to 2006.

Now, after 35 years in the tech industry, it’s clear that Mohan knows the sector like the back of his hand. And one of the key lessons from his extensive experience? The importance of diversity.

“I’ve lived and worked on three continents, which has really helped me to understand the value of working with different people,” he explains.

I’ve had so many employees tell me that they wake up every day and want to go into work, that they love what they do because Semtech is a company whose values align with theirs.

“I’ve always felt that there was value when a team – a set of individuals – comes from diverse backgrounds and, therefore, thinks differently. It also results in the highest level of innovation. When I came to Semtech and started hiring a new management team, I just hired the best – and those people just happened to be from Nigeria, Israel, Korea, from all over the world. It was never about trying to tick a box, but there’s no doubt that diversity has yielded tremendous results for us.”

As an industry leader in the supply of high-performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and advanced algorithms, Semtech is on the frontline of technological developments. Designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing a broad range of products for commercial applications, the company’s solutions are used by more than 5,000 customers worldwide.

And with the creation of advanced technologies such as LoRa, a long-range, low-power radio that is helping to combat natural disasters, protect endangered animals and create a greener future, Semtech is an essential player not just in the tech sector but also in the wider community.

“We continue to bring technology disruptions, trying to always achieve more with less,” Mohan says. “We’ve been telling everybody for years now that we need to make sure that, as things like global warming become more of an issue, the world is also getting smarter about how to adapt and manage these situations. So, by investing heavily in technology like LoRa, and ‘Internet of Things’ solutions, we can show the world how technology can assist in our quest for sustainability.”

As for the end goal, Semtech is well on its way to reaching Mohan’s objective of becoming a billion-dollar company. However, Mohan believes that Semtech can accomplish this at the same time as achieving an even greater vision – saving the world.

“If you’d told me that we were going to grow in a year when there was a pandemic and a global trade war, I would’ve said there’s no hope,” he says.

“But it’s been good for us. Every day presents a new set of challenges as well as new opportunities. We’re very much driven by how we use technology to solve the real-world problems that exist today. The motto at the heart of Semtech is that we can’t just hope things will get better, we have to act. And the employees really feel passionate about helping the world. But the great thing is that we’re able to do that at the same time as running a successful business.”

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