My Unconventional Career: How I Went from Aerospace to Semiconductors
Women with short hair and glass smiling
Mar 1, 2024
  • Dee’s career journey took on unexpected roles in engineering, quality, and operations
  • She oversees the manufacturing operations across two facilities at Silfex

I didn’t plan to work in operations for a manufacturing company. My original plan was to be a medical doctor. After receiving my first degree in biology, I realized that it wasn’t really medical school that I was after – I just enjoyed the challenge.  

And it’s this pursuit of a challenge that has shaped my professional journey.  

I grew up in Busan, South Korea, which is the country’s second largest city and is nestled on the southeastern coast. I found myself uprooted from my hometown at just twelve years old and had to navigate the complexities of adapting to a new life in the United States. 

Early on, my fascination with medical school fueled my academic pursuits. However, after realizing that medicine wasn’t my ultimate calling, I pivoted to biotechnology. I quickly noticed that further education was needed to truly make an impact in the industry as a researcher. I returned to academia and obtained my electrical engineering degree, which led me to one of the largest aerospace companies in the world, Boeing.  

Initially, the plan was clear: work as an engineer at Boeing, leveraging the company’s generous employee education benefit, while simultaneously pursuing a patent law degree, another facet of academia that piqued my interest.  

I worked in various engineering roles for Boeing, including as a design engineer for the 787 Dreamliner, where I was involved in the early phase design of the aircraft, collaborating closely with the company’s manufacturing and operations teams. The thrill of execution and the tangible impact of putting design ideas into motion was irresistible. And once again, I deviated from my planned path, embracing operations.  

As my career in operations at Boeing unfolded, I was relocated back to my hometown, 25 years after having first left. At Boeing, I oversaw supplier quality. In addition, I was responsible for the conformance of the company’s parts, including the integration of systems into the 787 structures by partner suppliers across the continent. This was a first for Boeing’s aircrafts which had traditionally been integrated solely by the company.  

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the semiconductor supply chain at Boeing, my background in electrical engineering and operations propelled me into a new project: procuring chips to ensure the uninterrupted production of aircraft systems for our suppliers. This new project proved to be quite an undertaking, given the high demand for these components! 

Eager for a new challenge, I joined Silfex, a subsidiary of Lam Research, in July 2022 – at the tail end of one of the company’s largest ramps. As part of the transition, I moved from Washington to Ohio, and my new role came with a big professional challenge: increasing the final yield across Silfex’s two facilities. The delicate – and brittle – nature of silicon presented novel complexities that I wasn’t accustomed to. Undeterred by the challenge, in 2023, we ended the year with a gain of six percentage points year-over-year. 

Today, as senior director of Operations at Silfex, I oversee the manufacturing operations of Lam’s facilities in Eaton and Springfield, Ohio. My primary goals in 2024 are to inspire my team to embrace challenges and to nurture a culture of continuous learning and problem solving to help the business deliver on critical priorities this year and into the future.  

As I look back on my career and the many challenges I’ve embraced, I’ve had a lot of fun. I wouldn’t have chosen any other career path. Each challenge has been a source of profound learning and growth.  

To each new opportunity at Silfex and beyond, I say challenge accepted.

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