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44th Design Automation Conference, June 4-8, 2007

Got SystemVerilog? New to SystemVerilog? Want to learn more about SystemVerilog?

The SystemVerilog User Group (SVUG) is a community created by users, for users. SVUG has a simple goal to advance the SystemVerilog language and accelerate the adoption of associated tools, methods, IP, and training. If you are a design or verification professional looking for a fun, informative way to keep on top the SystemVerilog ecosystem, SVUG is the place to be. Join us for the San Diego SVUG on June 4th. More details to come.

May 2, 2007


Managing your Career

By Gabe Moretti


The 12th Annual Workshop for Women in Design Automation will focus on "Managing Your Career" and will be held on Monday morning June 4th, the opening day of the 44th Design Automation Conference.  It will feature a keynote address by Dr. Terri Fiez, IEEE Fellow and professor of Electrical Engineering at Oregon State University, as well as a panel discussion: "Career Trajectories - The Voices of Experience" moderated by Peggy Aycinena, editor of EDA Confidential, contributing editor of EDA Weekly, and a frequent contributor to this newsletter as well.


Dr. Fiez's keynote will provide the foundation for the program that will be further elaborated upon during the panel discussion.  The panelists include Peggy Hersher, President and CEO of firstRain, Daphne Huckaby, Design Manager at Qualcomm Inc., Daya Nadamuni, Chief Analyst with Gary Smith EDA, and Diana Feng Raggett, President and CEO of Javelin Design Automation.


The speakers will address such topics as: The First 5 Years - building credibility and respect; Transitions - from individual contributor to manager, from engineer into sales or marketing, from academia to industry; Networking - maintaining an effective network of colleagues; Politics - navigating the political landscape in industry or academia; Balance and Scaling - how to effectively prioritize tasks and delegate work; Mentoring - finding and becoming a mentor; and Leadership - developing skills for heading up teams, projects, and organizations.


Another key part of the workshop is the presentation of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award.  In its eight year now, the award recognizes an individual that has significantly contributed to the advancement of women in the EDA industry.   This year's winner is Jan Willis, featured in this issue of the newsletter.


Although the workshop is focused on women, men can also benefit from the material presented and the dialogues that take place during the event.  To register, visit http://www/dac/com/44th/wwork.html.

Jan Willis -- X is for Excellence & Example

By Peggy Aycinena


Jan Willis, Senior Vice President for Industry Alliances at Cadence Design Systems, has been awarded the 2007 Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award.


Marie Pistilli, co-founder of DAC, has been an inspiration to the EDA industry for decades and it is in honor of Marie’s contributions that the award is made each year to a highly deserving woman in EDA. In 2007, that woman is Jan Willis. Just as Jan’s reputation in the industry is enhanced by receiving this award, the award itself is further enhanced and enriched by being linked to the likes of Jan Willis.


Jan is a hard-working executive with a lot on her plate. She is heavily involved coordinating efforts across Cadence and a diverse set of partner companies to advance a number of technology initiatives including the Power Forward Initiative and the X Initiative, both of which she is a co-founder. She is also on the board of Si2 and on the board of the Tech Museum in San Jose. In addition, Jan is a champion for The Tech Challenge competition for students in middle and high school, boys and girls that promotes learning to use technology to solve a design problem. She is also Executive Sponsor of the Cadence Women’s Mentoring Program and actively supports the Anita Borg Institute.


By example and mentoring, Jan is helping women in EDA see that it is possible to succeed as a member of a distinctly under-represented group within the industry. I asked Jan, when we spoke recently by phone, about the issues of leading by example and how women technologists deal with an oft-perceived obligation to promote the cause of women in the industry.


Jan told me, “My philosophy has been more about doing -- leading from the front as opposed to having a heavy focus on ways to promote, address, or bring attention to specific women’s issues. So let’s talk about my work at Cadence, and how I came to be doing what I‘m doing at the company.”




She told me about her career in engineering and management: “Growing up, I had a role model in that my older brother went into engineering -- not electrical or mechanical engineering, but agricultural engineering -- which set an example for me. I grew up on a farm in Missouri without a lot of exposure to many things. I just knew I wanted to get away and do something else, and I was good at math. I had also seen my brother’s studies and decided engineering seemed like a good ticket off the farm.


“I attended the University of Missouri in Columbus and earned a BSEE with an overlapping degree in computer engineering. After I graduated, I was fortunate to start my career at HP, a company where they teach a lot of great things to people just starting out from school. These days, I kind of wonder if we have enough of that going on in larger companies -- helping new hires out of college adapt to work. I think people can get thrown into a job very quickly, often with too little help adjusting.”


Jan continued, “I spent a couple of years learning the ropes at HP and then went from engineering into technical marketing, a niche I stayed in for several more years at the company. I ended up spending five and a half years at HP, which helped me reach my goal of getting to California. Then I decided to get my MBA to focus more on the business side of technology. I did my degree at Stanford and was recruited by Synopsys after graduation.


“It was in the very early days of the company’s rise, and it was kind of unusual. There weren’t a lot of EDA companies, then or now, who were recruiting from the business schools, but that’s how I got into the industry. Penny Herscher, who was at Synopsys at the time, recruited me to work fulltime for the company and it was from Penny that I learned a lot about strategic alliances, which eventually became a focus for my career over the next 16 years in the industry.


“During my time at Synopsys, I grew in the job in terms of being a manager. As I was promoted, I took on more responsibility and enjoyed expanding the Alliance Program to first include the IP suppliers, and then the foundries. I started going to Taiwan on a regular basis in 1993, and then tried my hand for a year at product marketing. I was glad to have had that experience, but decided it would not be my career focus. At the time, I also decided I wanted to try working for a smaller company.”


Jan said that’s when Simplex entered the picture: “I had missed the first wave of small companies in EDA. Penny continued to be a strong mentor, and when she was picked to head Simplex she brought me over as one of the first 30 employees. I focused on foundries, a critical link for the Simplex products, and built up those relationships. My role then expanded to include the corporate marketing realm.


“Then I decided to take a radical step at Simplex, a decision that many fear because it may affect their career path. I took a full year off and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to travel with my husband in Europe. He had always wanted to go back to Paris where, in the early 90’s, he had helped Synopsys launch their office there. And so we did just that -- we took a year off, which was really a great life experience.”


Jan added with a chuckle, “It probably added a few years to my life to step off the treadmill for a while. I would advise anyone who can to do this, because it’s truly a life-changing experience.  And I was able to resume my career quickly by maintaining my network back at Simplex and by being flexible about the position I returned to.”


“When I returned from my leave, I had the opportunity to return to Simplex and then had one of my most enjoyable work experiences in EDA. I was asked by Aki Fujimura to join the team building a technology called “X” that nobody thought could be done. We not only proved it could be manufactured, but established the first DFM initiative by bringing EDA together with manufacturing leaders like Applied Materials, KLA-Tencor and ASML.


“I met some people along the way that helped make this such a memorable experience by being outstanding leaders and role models who were willing to take risks. People like Ken Rylger who was a co-founder of DuPont Photomasks, Mike Smalying who ran the Mayden Center at Applied Materials, and Simon Segars who was in charge of engineering at ARM. At the time, I was also working to build areas of collaboration with other EDA companies like Cadence, and X was part of the discussion.  We started with an OEM relationship for extraction and analysis products -- and then, Cadence acquired Simplex.


"At Cadence, both Mike Fister and Ray Bingham before him have been advocates of building alliances, enabling me to grow the investment in this area significantly. Now we have teams working around the world co-located with our partners from the UK to Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan.”


Jan told me that what started out as her mission at Simplex continues to be her mission today at Cadence, but on a much larger playing field -- to develop design chain alliances and industry initiatives to support new technology adoption so that the customer gets a “whole product.”


She said, “With the recent increase in asset light semiconductor companies, it’s even more essential to collaborate across the design chain to deliver a solution that’s integrated and works whatever your choice of foundry and IP, that’s what we mean by whole products.”




Having covered the technology, I asked Jan to talk about her career trajectory -- the topic of this year’s panel at the June 4th Workshop for Women in Design Automation at DAC 2007 in San Diego.


Jan said, “I’m a big believer in mentoring and coaching, and in the value of such things for both men and women. But in particular, I do believe that having more programs to help women plug into mentoring would help a great deal.  I’ve benefited greatly from mentors along the way and I have been so impressed with a grass roots effort at Cadence for the past 7 years led by Ellen Tam, who is an outstanding role model for women in the technical field organization at Cadence.  She led an effort to form what’s called the Cadence Women’s Forum and last year they ran the first successful pilot for a women’s mentoring program. This year the number of participants has doubled and I think they are really on to something valuable. It’s a program that can serve as an example for the rest of the industry.”


It’s obvious that Jan Willis is inherently a positive thinker. Nonetheless, I asked her if there were points in her career where, in hindsight, she might have done something differently. She answered, “Everybody always wishes they had had some clear career advice early on. Or that someone would just tell them what they’re good at and then point them to the right job.


“In my case, it was clear to me that when you can have the opportunity early on to rotate through numerous different functions in a company, it’s an ideal circumstance -- particularly if you don’t know which niche you’re going to try to master. So one thing I do believe is that it’s best to try on different roles early on in a career.”


She chuckled and added, “Because, once you get far enough along a certain path, the truth is that ego, status, or pay always gets in the way of making even a lateral move.”


I asked Jan what part self confidence has to do with career success. She said, “I read a comment somewhere that said that the people who keep moving forward in business are those who don’t give up and keep working through issues. You have to be really willing to work through a lot of barriers and challenges, and have the faith in yourself not to give up.”




Does Jan think EDA offers attractive career opportunities for students coming into the work world today? Jan was definite in her answer: “Absolutely, young people should come into this industry! And actually, that’s one of the things I am going to be looking at next with regards to my mentoring. The reality is that we don’t have anything in place in the universities that helps in promoting the industry and recruiting new engineers, men or women. I really want to dig around and look at why that is.


“I believe EDA can play a positive role in this effort, and I also believe the Workshop for Women in Design Automation has been working on this goal for many years in the career topics that are on the workshop program. And I also know that the Anita Borg Institute has worked with the Girl Scouts and other youth organizations to get awareness out there about the industry.”


She finished by saying, “But it’s important that young men and women continue to come into the EDA industry. We absolutely need that to happen to spur the innovation and contributions to grow the industry.”


One way to guarantee that happens is to continue to honor industry leaders like Jan Willis, who lead by example, and mentor through excellence.


Congratulations, Jan!




Jan Willis will be honored at the Workshop for Women in Design Automation on Monday, June 4th, in San Diego. She will also be on stage during the opening session of the Design Automation Conference on June 5th to receive her award directly from Marie Pistilli.




Peggy Aycinena is Editor of EDA Confidential and a Contributing Editor to EDA Weekly.

DAC Quick Links


DAC is proud to announce a special seminar this year for executives and managers titled Innovation or Extinction – The Choice is Yours!  Presented by Geoffrey Moore, author and partner of TCG Advisors, Raul Camposano, CEO of Xoomsys, Inc. and Jim Smith, of Mohr Davidow Ventures.  The Management Seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, and is designed for middle and senior management who consider innovation as a part of strategic planning. The seminar is structured in three parts:

  • Innovation fundamentals
  • Innovation in the semiconductor and electronic design automation markets
  • Investing for innovation

 Space is limited - so Register today for the Management Seminar

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