International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is an important occasion for us to celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of our people. It is a checkpoint, a nudge for us to ask ourselves those very important questions, “What does inclusiveness mean for us as an organization? And what does it mean for each and every individual working at Exyte?" 

Sponsoring and supporting our employees at Exyte is a key value that our Leaders share. We believe that diversity of ideas and skills leads to clear business benefits and success. We focus on providing equal opportunities to our people, and enabling them to realize their potential. On International Women’s Day 2019, we pledge our commitment to a more diverse and inclusive workplace for all.

“I grew up with Exyte”
Tina Toh, Lead Cleanroom Engineer, Singapore

As a young mechanical engineer in Singapore who joined Exyte straight out of university, Tina admits that things were not rosy at the start. ‘Is this really for me?’ she asked herself. Going on project sites and dealing with flaring tempers was not how she had imagined her career would start out like. But she hung on. She spent time in Malaysia, met colleagues from across teams and built a support-system which she treasures and which values her back. ‘It has been 14 years now, in my first job,’ she laughs. ‘I grew up with Exyte.’ 

Tina believes that bonding with teammates has made a huge difference. She considers herself blessed to have had the opportunity to work with extremely supportive people in every project she has been part of.  ‘This is what made me - and still makes me - stay.’

Ask her about who ‘Tina, the person’ is and she will tell you about her two beautiful children. And then, she will tell you about her Exyte family. ‘When I got married, the whole office was there. It was like a little office party!’ 

When she was pregnant with her first child, her team would not let her go to the project site and would instead, take and share photos with her for her guidance. A new engineer was also attached to her as a trainee - so that when she went on her break, the new engineer could hold fort. This gave her tremendous courage, because she had to manage her father’s ill-health at the same time. It gave her the confidence and comfort to take not just the four months of maternity leave, but an additional four months of unpaid leave as well.

Ask her about what advice she has for women engineers considering a career in construction, and she has only one thing to say: ‘Hang in there. At first, it will be tough. But each job is designed differently - do not be afraid to experiment, you will learn and build character. You will work with several many people. You will get those big opportunities. And you will grow up, as I did.’ 

“It was my bosses who mentored me and made me who I am today”
Gina Low, Head of Commercial, Singapore

Gina’s tenure of a little over 20 years with the company has been in equal parts challenging, fulfilling and interesting. Exyte was her third employer and settling into a new culture took a bit of work. ‘My boss was tough, but a true sponsor,’ she reminisces. ‘She really inspired me. I was exposed to different areas in Finance, Legal and Contracting. She challenged me to stretch, perform and grow. With all of this, came an opportunity to be in Shanghai - and that is where I truly understood what it takes to build and sustain relationships with contractors.’

Gina feels that as a company, Exyte is invested in coaching and mentoring talent. She adds, ‘My bosses kept pushing me, providing me with opportunities and truly shaping what I am today. Managing people issues was initially a challenge for me - I have always found it easier to handle the technical aspects of projects. And so, working with different and diverse stakeholders in Singapore and China was an invaluable experience. It shaped my perspective on team building and today I can confidently state that I have nurtured a strong and close-knit team.’

As the Head of Commercial, Gina’s job is high-touch and high-visibility. So how does she balance her job with the demands of her family? ‘My weekdays are busy and they start early, when I drop my nine year old daughter, Bernice, at school. But I take the opportunity of my work commute to plan the day - and that helps me get through the many things I have to do. My weekends are in fact, busier! I have to take my daughter to her classes - hip-hop, taekwondo, piano, ballet and singing! But I enjoy it, because I end up learning new things too!’ Gina has found a lot of support in balancing priorities and thereby integrating her work and personal obligations. ‘In the beginning, I used to travel a fair bit. But after my daughter was born, the company was very accommodative and cut down the travel component in my role. I really appreciated this as I got to spend more time with my family.’ She laughs and adds: ‘A big plus is that nobody at office calls me on the weekends!’

20 years is a long journey. So what is Gina’s secret sauce? ‘It is the trust that my boss reposed in me, which I have carried forward and in turn learnt to put in the team members and contractors I work with. It has helped me build long term partnerships and successful relationships.’

And what would be her advice to fellow women professionals? “You have to prove you can do it and earn respect. Be patient and learn from your manager, colleagues and stakeholders. When you are at work, focus on your work. When you are at home, focus on your family. Do not bring work home and do not carry your personal issues to office.”

Today, Gina is well regarded as a mentor by many colleagues at Exyte. She advises, ‘To be successful at work, you need to first take care of your health and be fit. I see a lot of women at work getting stuck with the smaller details. Learn to not be fussy and focus on the big picture, let go when needed. Be open and communicate more with your staff, understand their needs.’

And what are her dreams for the next 20 years? ‘Becoming a freelance interior designer’, she chuckles, ‘and ensuring I have my successor in place before I retire.’

 

“I’ve always been taught – you can accomplish anything; as the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves.”
Salam Safi, Director of Human Resources, Americas

Coming from a family of general contractors and engineers, the deep rooted appreciation for our industry has always been a part of who I am.  After honing my craft in other industries, the opportunity to return to the design and construction field presented itself. 

I began with Exyte 4 years ago as an HR analyst and have been given nothing but opportunities to grow and take on new challenges.  Being a female leader in a male dominated field is a testament to the change in today’s workforce. We can achieve great things! 

Exyte created the opportunity to do what I love, in an industry that I love, with no limitations to what we, as a company, can achieve.

“Exyte has given me the opportunity to showcase my strengths while helping others to succeed as well.”
Jonna Bournias, Director of Design Management and Coordination, Americas

I have almost 29 years in the industrial facility design engineering and construction field across a variety of industries and have performed a variety of roles across five companies ranging from staff engineer to national director.

I am the first engineer in my family but in general my extended family comes from math and science backgrounds with almost everyone including myself having advanced degrees of some sort and it’s not unusual to be a very accomplished female in my family.

I came to Exyte in 2013 as a design manager. I have a strong affection for the semiconductor facilities industry as I believe it plays to my strengths. I have enjoyed working on a variety of projects across the globe and over my career I have been lucky enough to work on four continents and travel to well over 20 countries for both work and personal travel. I have built a robust network of friends and colleagues around the world.

I have never felt limited in what I can achieve and I have enjoyed the support of friends, family and colleagues along the way. Exyte has given me the opportunity to showcase my strengths while helping others to succeed as well.  

“Love your work, trust the people you work with, do not be afraid to fail”
Joyce Tang, Department Manager & Project Manager for Cleanroom, China

Her love for the environment led Joyce to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering from Tongji University. She joined Exyte in 1999; and since then, she has led several cleanroom and mechanical engineering projects in Shanghai, and got certified in Project Management. Among her most memorable career milestones has been the “meritorious person” award she won for her first project - where she led the design and execution of a Semiconductor Fabrication in Pudong New Area in China.

Her projects have received recognition and awards and she attributes her success to teamwork. What has made her stick on for 20 years? “My Leaders were always been around to support me. They were patient and gave me the comfort to discuss all issues with them. They encouraged me to reach out to them if I was facing any problem or challenge at work. They taught me the value of being fair and just, of belonging to your team and trusting your clients and team members.” 

Joyce starts her day at 6:30 a.m. She leaves home at 7:15 a.m. to avoid the traffic as she drives to work. Getting in early helps her plan the day well, she checks her emails and sets up her meetings. A typical day at work involves talking to her engineers and sorting out the issues on the site. By 5:30 p.m., she is done for the day, though work hours may get extended during critical project phases. Back home, she unwinds by reading and playing Chinese chess. With her son studying in the United States, she now devotes equal time to her parents and parents-in-law. She says, “It is important to make your family understand what work you do. They must realize your role and responsibilities and support you. It is also equally important for you to draw the line between your office time and personal or family time.”

What advice would she give to young women engineers? She reflects, “I have always maintained that there is no difference between a man and a woman. Talk to people, enjoy what you do and get what you want. Do not be afraid to ask for help when needed, do not bear the problems on your own.”

“If you have the capability, talent and drive, nothing is too far to reach.”
Yeo Ling, Head of the Engineering Department, Malaysia

Travelling to new places is a passion for Yeo. And she cherishes the opportunities she has gotten at Exyte to visit and work in different countries. Her exemplary work in Malaysia led her to head projects in Vietnam and Singapore, where she continued to demonstrate her skills and capabilities. Yeo learnt a lot from the experience, she says, “I invest time and effort in learning more about the history of a new place, and understanding its people better. Working in a new country is daunting at first - you feel everyone is looking at you closely. But just keep being focused on your work, and you will gain a lot from your interactions.”

Looking back at the years she has spent at Exyte, Yeo has a lot of happy memories. Having involved in various projects and with different teams, Yeo shares that team work is the key to successful projects.  It is amazing to see how a team of people comes together working towards the same goal to meet the Project Milestone.  The sense of achievement when you see the lines in the drawings comes into reality helps to get one ready for the next one.  

Yeo also recognizes the importance of having mentors at work. ‘My manager then, actively provided me opportunities to grow. He recommended me for a Global Talent Program - which was a key milestone in my career. I met and networked with people from across the world, and it made me appreciate diverse views and ideas. The personal coaching, the global talent program as well as the overseas projects that I had the chance to be a part of, made me more confident of my abilities.’  

Today, Yeo is held in high regard by her clients, and she commands the respect of her peers, team and the management. Her efforts have led to multiple repeat orders from the clients. Her technical skills and work attitude are shining examples for all. Yeo says ‘I believe it is important to take keen interest in the work one does. Construction is no longer a man’s world, the women at Exyte have provided time and again that given an equal opportunity, they can achieve anything.  During my early years as a process engineer, I was inspired by female colleagues from Singapore office.  They have been with company even longer than I am and held prominent positions.  I learnt from them that you can achieve all that you aspire for and be someone in this company as long as you work hard for it.’ 

“The key to succeeding is confidence in yourself and even more importantly, the people around you.”
Cathy Cafarelli, Director of Project Management/Project Director ATF, Americas

I joined Exyte in October of 2005 as a contract employee. I was not expecting a permanent position, as I was pregnant with my son and just looking for a 6-month or so stepping stone until after he was born. I would find my “career” then.  Well almost 14 years later, it is safe to say I found what I was looking for with Exyte.

I have held just about every position in my tenure here. I started as a project admin, then moved to document control and then finance. I was, however, always drawn to the operations side of the house and therefore migrated to construction. I try to bring energy and passion to my role every day. Today I am an ATF Project Director and I run the PMO group in the U.S. It has been a long, tough road to here but I hope my growth in the company is seen as a testament to hard work paying off.

I have been extremely fortunate, every step of the way to work with amazing people. People who lift you up and inspire. Managers and mentors who always encouraged me to look beyond my role. Construction and project management is not historically a “women’s field”. It was very daunting at first. I think the key to succeeding is confidence in yourself and even more importantly, the people around you. You are going to make mistakes. Own them, learn from them and grow beyond them.