Kenny QuahSemi-Test VP of Sales – APAC and EMEA
I have been part of the Smiths' family since 2015, when I joined Smiths Interconnect to manage the Asia sales team for the Smiths Connectors business unit. Since then, Interconnect has gone through various reorganizations, and my roles have evolved.
Today, I lead the Semiconductor test business unit's APAC and EMEA sales teams.
I graduated with an Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree. Even in an era when iPhones didn't exist, I knew I wanted a people-facing career. I enjoy learning about technology, but my personality would be more suited to sales. And for 30 years, I have been doing precisely that!
My career began with one of Japan's largest multinational corporations, Hitachi. My eight-year tenure there was a great training ground for me. It helped develop my work culture, which I have kept and practised until today.
From there, I went to work for a British company manufacturing copper tubing for the HVAC industry. I was with them for five years, seeing the world thanks to my sales role and managing in the Americas and the EMEA business. I travelled up to 70% of the time during my time there.
Then, I was head-hunted for a sales role with a British connector and power supply cord company. After another decade of a very fulfilling career, Smiths Interconnect came calling at a time when I was very keen to take on new challenges.
The Interconnect role was an exciting opportunity. It allowed me to work for a renowned engineering company with a broad product portfolio across various markets.
In my first role at Interconnect, I was responsible for the Asia sales team selling all Interconnect products. When my customers or industry friends ask 'which industry is Interconnect selling into,' I always tell them it is easier if they ask me, 'which industry does Interconnect NOT sell into' - such are the diverse segments that Interconnect is involved in.
As the VP of Sales (APAC and EMEA) for the Semiconductor test business unit, I am fortunate to lead a very motivated sales team. We operate in a price-sensitive market where we compete against international and local competitors. Nevertheless, the team has grown the business despite the market challenges by consistently focusing on selling our technology and showing customers that Smiths Interconnect should be their partner of choice!
I always believe that winners do not wait for chances; they take them. With the support and dedication of my team, winning deals and securing new customers is undoubtedly my favourite part of sales. It also allows my team and me to do something I have always worked towards in every stage of my sales career: leaving a work legacy.
Again, I am truly fortunate to lead an outstanding team. And for the team to continue to perform and to be a good leader, you must always put yourself in the other person's shoes and show empathy; and be calm when facing challenges. At the same time, a leader must always be clear about the company's objectives, finding the best way to execute actions while getting the team's full support, commitment, and confidence. I am fortunate to have an excellent group of sales professionals that have made this so much easier.
To those looking to make a career in sales, I advise you to be continuously hungry for success and overcome challenges. A hugely successful salesperson embraces success and exceeds expectations. Do not let challenges bring you down; use your energy to overcome and thrive!
Alice KingFinance Analyst
I studied Economics at the University of Exeter. I always liked maths and knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance. I was an economics tutor for first-year students in my free time. In my final year, I began teaching, solidifying my economics knowledge and building my confidence to lead a class of up to 20 students.
After/During University, I pursued internships in the investment banking sector. However, I didn’t enjoy the work-life balance and overly competitive environment. I prefer the supportive environment I found in the graduate programme at Smiths. I feel more valued as an employee, which has allowed me to gain significant experience in finance through shadowing and learning from several senior professionals in the business.
The graduate programme allowed me to rotate through finance departments in different divisions without sacrificing my values and time with those most important to me: family and friends.
Smiths allowed me to travel the world. I lived in Lutin in the Czech Republic while working for the John Crane division. My time there taught me a lot about Czech culture, from traditions to popular sports and food!
I also worked towards my ACCA professional accounting qualification. Completing this was a pivotal moment in my career. I won an ACCA affiliate prize and was awarded a bronze medal for achieving the third-highest mark worldwide in my exams! The supportive environment at Smiths allowed me to take days off to manage my studies comfortably, leading to worldwide recognition for my hard work.
My main advice to graduates is to find a good work-life balance to avoid burnout. Explore all your different opportunities in the finance world to discover what you enjoy doing, and always ask plenty of questions!
Giuseppe LancellaVP Global Sales Channel and General Manager India
I started my career in 1988 at Connei in Genoa, Italy – a manufacturer of high-reliability connectors that would later become Hypertac when acquired by Smiths Group in 1995. I started out as Automation and Operations Manager and by the time of the acquisition I was Managing Director. Joining the Smiths team, I was appointed as Europe President for the Smiths Connectors business, then VP Sales for EMEA. I was then appointed VP Global Sales Channel for the Smiths Interconnect division, and most recently, whilst maintaining my current responsibilities for global channels and contracts, I was appointed as General Manager India.
Smiths offered me the opportunity to be part of a global, reputable group. As the young Managing Director of a small company, I was impressed by the rigour and discipline in decision making of the leaders I met. Smiths invested in my development by funding an MBA, and since then training and opportunities to grow have never stopped.
I believe our mission is to serve our customers with innovative solutions and services enabling the success of their applications. My experience with demanding customers in very challenging markets like defence, space and medical, and now with the channel partners has proved that working in a consistent and transparent way is the only way to secure solid, profitable, long term relationships.
Smiths is a dynamic business that constantly offers opportunities to learn new skills on a global scale. Attention to people, high integrity and an ethical environment are the perfect place to be for talented people.
Dionne HoltVice President of Human Resources, Smiths Interconnect, Inc. (SII)
I have a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s in Management. My first job in Human Resources (HR) was a summer internship at a bank during High School. I was responsible for helping to recruit Tellers, testing administration and data management. After college, I started work in a small private technology software company without an HR team. During my first few months, I made several suggestions for HR practices and the owner eventually asked me to serve as HR for the business.
I joined Smiths Interconnect in 2013 when I replied to an ad for a company called TRAK Microwave (now one of Smiths Interconnect’s technology brands), who was searching for a HR Manager. From there I rose through the ranks.
I enjoy working in HR as there is no such thing as a typical day. I meet with functional leaders to discuss priorities and challenges, as well as determine the appropriate solutions to drive our HR strategy forwards. I manage a team of HR professionals and we have daily interactions on topics spanning the employee life cycle, such as sourcing, talent development, employee relations and much more. I love the variety of my role and seeing the HR team positively impact Smiths Interconnect’s bottom line.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia late into my academic career. I have implemented techniques and strategies to manage my condition, and though it may take a bit longer to complete assignments, I push forward with tenacity.
Representation matters. A pivotal moment in my career was having a Senior HR leader of colour mentoring me. She provided me with exposure, opportunities and critical feedback that has helped shaped my career today. I strive and encourage others to create communities and groups across our locations, where ideas and knowledge can be shared. We must commit to the long journey. I’ve seen many stops and starts, and we lose momentum with every restart.
To those interested in a career in HR, I recommend getting experience in organisations of different scope and size. In a small-scale business, you will likely practice all HR competences and support the full employee life cycle. In a larger company, you may be more specialised but can benefit from mature infrastructure, technology, and hopefully best practices.
My best advice? Trust your instincts. Take more risks. Make bold moves.
Leonardo Rivera CorderoEngineering Manager
Smiths invested in my career. I started as a production operator at Smiths Interconnect in 2003. With the support of my colleagues, I decided to study for three years to earn a technical level degree in electronics.
In 2005, during my studies, I got the opportunity to take on the role of Supervisor of Screen-Printing processes. It was amazing to think that despite having a very humble upbringing, doors were opening for me to continue learning and developing.
In 2007, I took on the role of Production planner for the Components area. This role taught me a great deal about the administrative aspects of production, but at the same time, I realised that I wanted to return to the technical arena.
I was inspired by my Engineering Manager who told me: “You can be an Engineer, that's your area. Study, and you will get there!"
By the beginning of 2009, I had begun a new role as a Junior Engineer. Smiths Interconnect's vision for employee growth and the opportunities they offer allowed me to continue developing and to learn about all the production processes that take place at our Costa Rica facility.
I advanced to the role of Engineer, followed by Senior Engineer, before becoming Engineering Supervisor.
An important recent achievement for me was being offered my current position as Engineering Manager. This is a new challenge for me, but I work hard and trust in the group of professionals around me. They support me and encourage me to continue giving my best every day.
My motivation to move forward is my family. I encourage you to look for your motivation and always keep moving.
Kirthi AgarwalFinance Manager
My Smiths journey began in September 2019 when I joined Smiths Interconnect as the Finance Manager for the newly established India entity. One of the most critical aspects of my job was to build the India Finance team, to ensure business meets the statutory and regulatory compliance requirements of Indian laws, financial planning, whilst also working closely with Sales & Marketing to scale the business and shape it towards profitable growth.
Smiths’ global presence and diversity were fundamental factors in drawing me to the company. The fact that my current role presented the chance to set up a business and team from scratch appealed to me, as well as the opportunity to work in a challenging and rewarding environment.
I joined Smiths with over ten years of experience at various financial institutions and an education in the same domain – I have an MBA (Finance Major) and am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA Finalist). My prior experience includes work with large corporations, multidisciplinary financial institutions, and engaging with growth stage startups.
My journey so far with Smiths has been exciting with many chapters yet to unfold. I discovered Smiths to be a rare combination of an exciting and challenging workplace, similar to that of a high growth startup, with the stability and values of a large company with a rich legacy. It exceeded my expectations by affording me the best of both worlds. Working with a very intelligent group of motivated colleagues, learning from teams and operations across the globe and contributing towards the success of the India operations – my time here has been very enjoyable.
Three words that describe my career would be learning, perseverance and action. I strongly believe in continuous learning, not quitting in the face of adversity and always having a strong inclination towards making things happen. In that sense, joining Smiths has been a very good career decision for me.
Looking at my career so far and drawing a 10-year roadmap into the future, I see Smiths playing a crucial role in shaping me as a professional, helping me discover my potential and presenting me with opportunities to add value.
Suzie HardyFinancial Planning and Analysis Director
Finance wasn't my first job after graduating with a Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering – but having always had a passion for Maths as well as Physics and IT, I decided that it was the path for me and so I joined the Smiths Finance Graduate Scheme.
I worked towards my CIMA accounting qualification whilst working full time and then moved through a series of finance roles – from Financial Analyst, to Treasury Manager, to Regional Shared Services Director and Divisional Financial Controller. Today, I am the Director of FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) for Smiths Interconnect, the third Smiths division I've worked in.
There’s always been another challenge to accept, and I haven’t had the same role for longer than two years. The opportunities available are huge, and that's what attracted me to Smiths in the first place. Smiths is also so diverse in terms of products, which I find fascinating, and I love learning about them.
My personal drive has always been to make things better, improve processes and increase efficiency which I’m allowed to explore in my role. What I love hearing about at work are the success stories for individuals, either with customers where they’ve been able to exceed the expectations or internally with job promotions.
I love the people at Smiths Group, that’s what has kept me here so long. If I was to offer one piece of advice for someone coming into a finance role is talk to people – get out and about and discover what’s going on with all the teams out there, you can’t understand the numbers if you don’t understand the business!
After five years with Smiths Interconnect, I have taken the opportunity of another internal move to become Smiths Group’s Financial Planning & Analysis Director.
William WilsonProject Manager
After finishing school, I jumped straight in when it came to my career. At the age of 18, I joined the Royal Air Force as an Avionics Technician looking after airborne radar, communications and navigation systems. I held this position for 12 years.
During this time, I also studied towards an MSc in Engineering through The Open University, the UK's leading distance learning university. This gave me confidence and a sustained attitude of self-improvement that I still employ today.
Leaving the military, I took up a position as a Verification Engineer, where I found that my curiosity and aptitude for problem solving fittingly translated to me shifting my career to managing engineering projects.
Moving from being a Project Engineer to Project Manager Professional in 2017, I joined Smiths Interconnect’s Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) team. Working primarily with Aerospace, Defence and Space technologies, I have been part of a great team that has delivered both large and complex projects.
For me, the best part about being a project manager is the diversity of the opportunities and challenges we can find ourselves faced with. Within this role, I have exposure to all elements of the business, from Operations, RD&T and Finance, to Sales and Marketing. Understanding the unique scope for each project which I manage and determining its impact on each of the different business domains, ensures a variety of role that is both hard to match and thoroughly rewarding.
The products that we make here at Smiths Interconnect incorporate transformational technologies and the business environment is highly dynamic. With this, comes its own challenges and needs. Smiths Interconnect has been powerful in encouraging me to step up and be exposed to leadership engagement, which has provided a platform in which to break down barriers and provide clarity where there is ambiguity.
Any new member joining the team I’m part of, and the company, is quickly encouraged to share their ideas for process development and improvements, which has proved to be highly valuable to the business as we adapt to the ever-changing world needs.
Allyssa SkidmoreRD&T Director – Connectors Americas
I joined Smiths as a Design Engineer in 2010 developing custom interconnect solutions for medical applications, and became the Senior Medical Design Engineer two years later. It was a thrilling role – coming up with new ideas and translating them into physical form for devices that may save lives.
In 2014 I crossed over to Project Management, where I was able to tackle some of the systemic issues that has frustrated me as an engineer in the New Product Development (NPD) team. It also introduced me to new technologies and new ways of doing things.
Fast-forward a few years and I'm now a certified Senior Project Manager for the Research, Development and Technology team. I'm still leading NPD teams for some complex global initiatives, and at the same time helping to build the framework that will enable the future successes of our cross-functional teams at Smiths Interconnect.
Our technologies enable our customers to tackle tough problems and bring new inventions to the world. I was excited to work on medical applications that could one day improve, or save, the life of someone I love.
Finding simple, elegant solutions to complex, meaningful problems is what drives me. Working with creative, motivated individuals from all over the world and all walks of life – coming together to achieve a common goal.
There's a wealth of opportunities at Smiths. There's a wealth of opportunities at Smiths. You’ll be encouraged to grow within your existing career.
Phillipe DuboisLaboratory Technician
I graduated with a university degree in physical measurement. My first job was a six-month contract as a lab assistant in 1979.
I found Smiths when I accepted a job offer to be a test laboratory technician in June of 1980. My tenure has seen the history of our brands. From FRB Connectron, SOFESA, Hypertax SA, Smiths Connectors, to the Smiths Interconnect of today, I’ve witnessed our evolution and shifting business challenges.
I’ve met every challenge thrown my way. In 1990 I had the most pivotal moment in my career, when I was asked to manage an inspection department. Today I manage the path of space products, from quality assurance to final inspection.
My main advice for a career in my field is to show rigor in your work. Check that the customer’s requirements are met. Once checked, check again.
In the end, 42 years at Smiths has taught me to shoot for the moon with everything you do. I am planning to retire at the end of this year and know that the business will be left in good hands. I started my hand over last year and will continue to work with my team to ensure that our customers will be taken care of.
Tracy CaiSenior Industrial Engineer
My journey with Smiths Interconnect began in 2006. I was one of the key members involved in setting up Smiths Interconnect’s semiconductor test product manufacturing capability in Suzhou. Three years later, in 2009, I was assigned to take charge of the G2 system master item maintenance for Suzhou. As a Senior Industrial Engineer, I now lead Site Continuous Improvement and a team of three industrial engineering coordinators (IEC).
I am incredibly proud of my achievements and the years of hard work and study that have led me to this point.
I was born in the country, in a remote part of China and I must be honest, before college, I knew nothing about engineering. After passing my college entrance exam, I was drawn to the field of Automation and spent four years on a theoretical course. Having completed the course, instead of moving into automation, I began my first job on the production floor as an Assistant Industrial Engineer.
Whilst I was very excited about the job, I had to learn a lot from scratch. But I was determined to follow this career path. So, after a lot of hard work and embracing learning through experience, I qualified as an Industrial Engineer a year later.
More recently my role has focused on Lean principles. I picked this up very quickly by taking advantage of my rich production experience and engineering background. I earned my Six Sigma Green Belt Certification from the National Quality Association in 2016 and a Black Belt from the Smiths Excellence System Academy in 2018.
Smiths Interconnect is a forward-thinking company. We’re constantly looking to maximise efficiencies in our processes and I deeply appreciate all the ways in which Smiths has given me the chance to learn and grow.
I always believe I can do a good job if I am given a chance. If I am faced with a challenge, I like to turn the situation around so it drives me to grow.
I will not stop learning – it is how I’ve got to where I am today. With learning we can achieve anything – making the impossible possible!
Rainer DaumVP Sales EMEA
I have spent the majority of my career working for electronic component manufacturers, but my last seven years at Smiths Interconnect have felt different.
At Smiths Interconnect, I am constantly encouraged to keep learning and developing myself, which has helped me progress my career in the direction I would like to move. I started my current role as VP Sales EMEA in August 2020. It is my seventh role at Smiths Interconnect in seven years.
In this role, my daily tasks include leading the EMEA sales team, managing key customer relationships, managing sales channels and customer communications and growing the business in the EMEA region.
I wasn’t always certain that sales would be the career path I would take. What I was certain of, however, was my interest in electronic components.
As a young boy, I loved to work with cables and connectors. I spent time DJing and making music as a hobby which was when my interest in electronics truly sparked. I’m certain that my affinity with music led me to a career in the interconnect market.
My first professional job was working as a mechanic, building moulding and stamping tools.
But after spending a few years in this role, I decided that I wanted to extend my education and my understanding of the theoretical side of Mechanical Engineering. Having already completed a three-year apprenticeship working as a mechanic, I now studied for a further two years to earn a qualification as a “Certified Mechanical Engineer”.
Once I had completed my studies, I started my new job as a Development Engineer in cable harnessing. Relatively quickly my manager noticed that I had a talent for working with people. Consequently, I received the opportunity to lead a small team manufacturing special cable assemblies. During this valuable period of my career I was in also in contact with Sales Engineers from our suppliers and our customers.
I then received a job offer from a leading interconnect company for a Field Sales Engineer role. I decided to jump on this opportunity to shift my career path slightly in what I knew would be a positive direction. I spent 20 years with this company, and over my time there I had the chance to shift my career path again, becoming a Key Account Manager before holding several management roles in Sales and Marketing. Being flexible, I also had the chance to get experience in Sourcing and Operations.
In April 2013, looking for further challenges, I started my career at Smiths Interconnect as ‘Sales Director Germany’ at our site in Deggendorf, covering sales in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Eastern Europe.
I found that career opportunities came along quickly and frequently for me at Smiths Interconnect.
I soon took over several additional regions beyond my original scope, and later took on Key Accounts and Markets as a responsibility in my role as ‘Global Key Account and Market Development Director’.
My advice to others is take the chance to develop your career whenever an opportunity arises and never give up.
Elena MussoProcess Engineer
I knew from a young age that working in a ‘typical office job’ was not something that would interest me. Instead, I pursued my inclination towards mechanical engineering, with the ultimate aim of finding a hands-on career in the realm of Operations.
I have worked in a number of different areas within mechanical engineering, from rails to turbines to automotives, advancing from Workshop Manager, to Supervisor, to Lean Projects Engineer.
My current role is in continuous improvement. I work at Smiths Interconnect as a Process Engineer at our site in Genoa, Italy. The main feature of my job is process improvement in order to maintain efficiency, reduce cost, improve sustainability and maximise profits. In my daily activities, I assess processes, take measurements and interpret data, develop best practices and find innovative solutions to improve production rates and the quality of output.
One of the highlights for me since joining in 2018 has been taking part in the Smiths Belted Programme at Oxford University. It was a great opportunity to learn valuable methodologies that help me with my role, and it gave me the chance to get to know colleagues from across the world in every Smiths Division. This is a great initiative and I’m grateful to Smiths Interconnect for enabling me to take part.
I went on to achieve a Green Belt certification by presenting an optimisation project for the semi-automatic machine used in socket production. I have subsequently worked on four more Green Belt Projects with cross-functional teams from around the world.
I’m very happy here in Genoa. The engineering team that I’m part of is wonderful - we are like a family and everyone is ready to listen to and help each other.
As a female engineer, I really value the importance of seeking out opportunities that genuinely interest you, rather than worrying out external perceptions. Smiths Interconnect continuously reinforces this and reminds me that aspirations don’t have a shape or gender. I am constantly pushed to pursue the learning and skills that are important to me through my employee development plan.
Zhihong JinProcessing Engineering Manager
Having gained her bachelor’s degree in electrical technology at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an (China), and started her career in Nanjing, Zhihong Jin was enticed to join Smiths Interconnect in 2006 by our reputation for efficiency.
Today, as Process Engineering Manager, it’s her responsibility to ensure we employ the latest practices and equipment in the effective running of our Suzhou manufacturing operations - from coordinating schedules and materials, or maintaining output and quality standards, to employee training and safety.
She averages four meetings a day across the site and particularly enjoys tackling machining and tooling issues, saying, ‘There’s something so rewarding about fixing a physical problem.’
But Zhihong also loves more conceptual challenges. She tracks technological advances, competitor activity and market trends and seeks creative ways to ensure Smiths Interconnect stays ahead.
This saw her work on the ground-breaking DaVinci 56 Test Socket: a reliable, accurate and cost-efficient tool for testing 0.8mm, high-performance IC chips. This product team was recognised with the 2021 Smiths Interconnect Technology Excellence Award and selected as a Group Award finalist.
She is constantly evolving her own skills, too. Having gained her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt qualification at the Smiths Excellence System (SES) Academy in 2021, she has successfully led a Continuous Improvement project to reduce wastage in our spring probe production process.
Despite her personal achievements, she says it’s important to always nurture the ‘collective spirit’. She explains: ‘We’re all part of a team with a common goal and perform better when we trust and support each other.’
She takes time to acknowledge colleagues’ achievements, however small, adding: ‘A smile is the most powerful tool we have and we should use it often.’