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EETE DEC 2014

ICONIC INSIGHTS: lunch with Hanns Windele Focus on the future Under the stewardship of Jalal Bagherli, in the past decade Dialog Semiconductors has risen from the ashes to become one of the fastest growing companies in the semiconductor space. Here he discusses the transition pathway from virtual extinction to success, future growth and diversification… Hanns Windele: Dealing with Dialog today compared with 10 years ago is as different as day and night. How did you insert this new DNA into the company? Jalal Bagherli: Early in my career I worked with large corporations and before joining Dialog I was running a start-up company. From the start up, I learned about survival and the importance of an entrepreneurial culture, whereas in the larger companies the focus is on organisations, markets, profit and loss. In a small company cash is the real motivation. If you don’t have enough cash to pay your engineers at the end of the month, they are going to leave and the company can go bankrupt. You kind of evolve a sense of urgency, a sense of survival. I tried to bring the best of both worlds to Dialog, urgency and the entrepreneurial spirit of the start-up coupled with some of the good processes and discipline of the larger corporation, but leaving behind the bureaucracy. HW: Tell me about some of the first changes that you implemented… JB: You have to lead by example, and one of the most basic of these is cutting unnecessary costs. Upon joining I initiated a number of cost saving measures to bring that sense of survival I mentioned across the company. For example, I instituted a policy of economy travel for everybody across the company, including myself. It’s hard for people to believe that there is a crisis if management is flying business class. The company was also suffering “You have to push decision-making downstream and hold people accountable for their decisions… from an inability to make business decisions properly and quickly. What you have to do here is push decision-making downstream and hold people accountable for their decisions. We made a lot of changes: we bought in the idea that making profit for our shareholders is important. We also issued share options to all employees, which was not common for similar companies in Europe at that time. HW: How much of the original Dialog culture survived the transition? JB: I tried to preserve what was good about the company, and that was the technology. We had excellent engineering skills and we gave first class service to the customers. These are the types of things that we kept. None of it was magic, actually: we just looked at each item with common business sense. Maybe here and there it was a little turbo-powered with some of the survival instinct and risk taking philosophy that I brought in. QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS What is the last non-business book you read? Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table by Cita Stelzer. How many digital devices do you have on you at the moment? Two mobile phones, one a BlackBerry soon to be abandoned in favour of the iPhone 6 Plus. If you could be CEO of a non-technology company, what would it be? Not a company as such, but running a Post Grad business school for engineers or maybe Head evangelist for entrepreneurial business approach at the EU! Who would you wish to spend time in a prison cell with? Perhaps Morris Chang the founder of TSMC who has had one of the largest influences on the semiconductor industry. What piece of engineering would you donate to a museum? The computer keyboard. We need to move to voice and touch as soon as we can. 20 Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE DEC 2014
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