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LeaderTalk : In conversation with Krishnan Shrinivasan, Vice President, Deputy General Manager – Lam Research India

    1. Please tell us about the work you are doing in nanotechnology in India and how you are making a big difference to the landscape globally. Lam India works on the design of Lam’s latest equipment offerings to the semiconductor industry. Our leading-edge customers are producing integrated circuit designs at the nanometer scale for applications in mobile telephony, computing, network infrastructure, AI/ML, etc. None of these exciting advances in technology would be possible without innovation in semiconductors and the equipment that Lam supplies to manufacturers of semiconductors. Lam engineers working in Bangalore India design mechanical components and subsystems, electrical power distribution and controls, and software needed to operate the equipment Lam manufactures. 2. Cutting edge work in the times of working from remote locations – how has been your experience? Please share the pros and cons as well. Lam employees have put their core values of teamwork, open communication, and continuous improvement to work in overcoming barriers to an effective collaboration resulting from being at home. Further, the data network infrastructure provided by India’s telecommunication companies has exceeded our expectations in terms of stability and efficiency. Like many others around the world, our employees have had to overcome barriers such as a slower network and the additional challenges that come with working from home while taking care of their families. Lam has added more employee wellness initiatives to assist with balancing home and work life in this unprecedented time. 3. The blurring line between hardware and software – can you please deep-dive for us and share your insights? This is an interesting question for us at Lam, because we are enablers of more powerful ICs, while also being beneficiaries of advances in hardware capability. The simplest way to explain this is to say that Lam equipment enables our customers to build more powerful integrated circuits, which allow for higher processing and storage capabilities. Consequently, complex computation and data manipulation, which at one time would have taken place in the software layers, have increasingly been integrated into hardware. This is exemplified by the move to embed more AI capabilities in chip design through accelerators. Lam benefits from these advances by integrating them into the design of our equipment and its control systems. Real-time control of our equipment and sensing of its performance can yield dramatic advances in reliability, flexibility, and tunability. 4. What kind of talent do you typically look at and some of your initiatives to ensure a healthy pipeline? Also, how would you rank Indian talent? The semiconductor equipment industry, of which Lam is an integral part, requires diverse technical talent including scientists and engineers of all disciplines. We pride ourselves on integrating people from multiple disciplines into cross-functional teams that execute the company’s vision and that of our product portfolio. Since our industry is still in its infancy in India, we spend a lot of resources training the raw talent available in India on the specific problems and needs of the semiconductor industry. Therefore, employee engagement and retention are a very high priority at Lam. We engage with universities all around the world to both expand our access to new and exciting technologies, and to also identify talent. India has a deep and wide pool of technical talent and we emphasize internships as a way to expose college students to our industry and prepare them for careers in our industry. 5. Any specific policy recommendation for the government? Developing a semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem is amongst the most pressing needs in India. Due to its vibrant IT and knowledge industries, India is a large consumer of electronics products. Its trade deficit in electronics, which are characterized by increasing semiconductor content, will soon surpass that due to energy and become unsustainable in the long run. India also has a vibrant chip design ecosystem but has to rely on manufacturers abroad for prototyping and production. Policies to encourage semiconductor investments in India are essential for its technological growth. These policies must make it attractive for companies to set up semiconductor manufacturing facilities in India by providing the appropriate inputs and, if necessary, guaranteed markets. 6. The kind of work that you do with startups and do share your ideas/views about a collaborative ecosystem. While we have not worked with many startups in India to date, we have partnered extensively with startups that offer differentiated products and services to Lam. Being part of technologically advanced industry, we are also always on the lookout for disruptive technologies that could change markets in which we compete. We pride ourselves on being a very collaborative company and engage across the full spectrum of our ecosystem. 7. Your leadership mantra and what are your future pivots for India My leadership mantra is to set high standards and lead by example. This is especially true in a country like India, where our workforce is by definition young and mostly starting out in their careers. Lam’s employees in India are all in the early stages of their careers and are hungry for guidance and role models. Lam’s business model in India has delivered results to Lam and its customers and we will continue to look for opportunities to engage with the India talent pool to deliver better products and services to our customers.

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