Watson alumnus is shaping the future of semiconductors

As the senior vice president for manufacturing operations at Texas Instruments (TI), Mohammad Yunus, MS ’00, oversees the company’s semiconductor production around the world. That global reach includes wafer fabrication, assembly and testing across 15 worldwide internal manufacturing sites, external manufacturing and product distribution.

When he was an industrial engineering graduate student at Binghamton University, Yunus worked at first with corporate partners through the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) and Professor Robert Emerson, then-chair of the Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department. He later did similar collaborations as part of the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE) under Distinguished Professor Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari (now Watson College’s dean).

Those experiences helped to shape his career at TI, where he has climbed the corporate ladder since leaving Binghamton University.

What attracted you to Binghamton and Watson College?

It definitely was not the cold weather!

With Dr. Hari and his program, it was not just about getting a master’s degree. Along with getting an education, we were working with industry partners to solve real-world problems. Additionally, Binghamton and the industrial engineering program were generous in providing me with a full scholarship. I could not have afforded going to school without that.

Why does industrial engineering appeal to you?

Manufacturing is an important part of growing any economy in the world, and it involves working with technology and with people. Obviously, every job in today’s world is heavily technology-focused and, to varying degrees, people-focused as well. With industrial engineering, though, you have a unique mix of making technology more efficient but also working with people and helping them make things better.

Are there specific lessons you learned here that continue to influence your thinking?

Yes, definitely. Dr. Hari understood his responsibility to educate students, but he was so committed to making Watson’s successful industrial partners. He would work really hard, and he expected his students to work hard. He’d be the first person on campus, and many days the last person to leave campus. Through that experience, I learned the importance of working hard no matter what job you do.

Although he had high expectations, he cared for students and not only wanted to make sure that we got a good education but that we were coping with this new environment, especially the international students. He would never sit down and chat with you just about your campus life, but through his own unique way, he made sure that we were doing well. If there was anything he could do to help us, he’d always be there.

Something else that I find all great leaders have is that he would be the first to say there’s something he didn’t know and ask questions to learn more — he wouldn’t pretend to be an expert in everything. That philosophy helped him to pivot his program to where industry needs were.

You have spent more than two decades at Texas Instruments. What makes the company special?

It’s the culture and the values. TI has been around for over 85 years. There are very few technology companies that have been around for that long and have gone through multiple transition points. We started as an instrument company for oil exploration, and since then, we’ve innovated, we’ve pivoted, we’ve remained relevant and we’ve continued to contribute to technology advancement.

It is our passion at TI to create a better world by making electronics more affordable through semiconductors. Our people-centric approach reflects the strong value system that we have, and we always strive to be a good citizen in the communities where we operate. TI also provides great opportunities for personal development, and we have a strong diversity of people from all backgrounds, faiths and cultures.

I’ve never thought of leaving TI, honestly — it’s been an incredible ride. I continue to learn every day.

Your current role has a huge mandate within TI. How do you wrap your arms around all of it?

We have manufacturing operations around the world, but over the last two years, I have not been able to visit any of those outside of the US Luckily, we have great leaders running each one of our sites, and they make it easy for me.

You continue to have close ties with Binghamton and Watson College. Why is that important to you?

Dr. Hari, Binghamton and Watson College have played an extremely important role in my development and personal growth. I have a lot of gratitude for the professors and the support structure I had in Binghamton that helped me to go into the real world and start my career. I also learned a lot about America, coming from India as I did.

Binghamton has been really kind, generous and it’s just generally great people. You can’t find a lot of places like that in the world.

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