Women in Health and High Tech – Christelle Le Cam: from engineering to people management

The health and high-tech industries are still seen as predominantly male, but at Novio Tech Campus, these women are paving the way for the future. Christelle Le Cam, Technology & Quality Support manager in Chief Technology Officer (CTO) organization at NXP, for example, is working hard to help engineers reach their full potential.

The Netherlands as home base
More than 20 years ago, Christelle moved from France to the Netherlands to work at Philips in Eindhoven. She also worked a few years in Belgium and France but in the last 14 years, she has been working at NXP in Nijmegen. She has always had a knack for physics and math. And as an engineer in micro-electronics, she did what she enjoys most: “Chips are fascinating! In my work I get to work on the technologies to manufacture future chips.” Part of what makes working in health and high-tech valuable to Christelle, is the application of her work in people’s everyday lives. “For instance, working on chips that are used in phones and cars is great: you help to advance technology that many people use.”

As an expat, there are always challenges when you first start to work in a different country. Christelle chose to try and adapt quickly when she first arrived in the Netherlands. “The first year in Eindhoven was a cultural shock. I took a course in Dutch culture, which was a real eye-opener,” she says. The Dutch directness was one of the biggest differences compared to France. However, she quickly understood that this was not a sign of rudeness, but simply the Dutch way of working.

Helping engineers reach their potential
Throughout the years, transistors have become smaller and smaller. Christelle has been responsible for an entire technology platform. The challenge was to make sure the necessary technology is available and ready to use in the production of chips. Now, Christelle is managing a few teams which are, for example, aiming at developing simulation models. This enables chip designers to better predict how chips will behave once they are taken into production and used in cars, phones, and many other products.
She used to work as an engineer, but her current position in management requires different skills. It took a while before she accepted the management position, even though she had received offers before. “For a long time, I was too passionate about working on the technology itself, to move into a management position. Now, I enjoy using my people management skills to make my engineers reach their full potential.” Even though it has only been nine months, she enjoys her new role. “I look forward to getting to know the organization even better and having the best possible impact on NXP as a whole.” Her teams seem satisfied, which to her, is the most important indicator that she is off to a good start.

Traveling the world online
She works in a very international team. This is inherent to the nature of her work, as she is in charge of teams located on different continents. “I work with teams in The Netherlands,  the United States and China”, she says. These international contacts are part of the chip industry: “ My work enabled me to travel a lot, like going to conferences in the United States or going to Asia to visit manufacturing sites. “

Working with teams all over the world requires more than just management skills. As an engineer, Christelle experienced what it’s like to be part of one of those teams. She can use these insights in her current role. “I enjoyed working as an engineer. My focus is now on helping engineers grow,” she says.

Leading the way
Helping others find ways to improve and reach their full potential is nothing new to Christelle. Christelle is helping other expats, particularly women, find work. She is contributing to a program in Eindhoven called ‘Women for Women’. “There are many talented women who move to the Netherlands with their partners. They need to find their path as well. And I am happy to help them do so.” Christelle continued leading the way, and she now helps female talent, more specifically in health and high-tech.

Within NXP, Christelle is part of the ‘Women in NXP’-board. There are similar boards in all countries where NXP is located. “We aim at empowering female talent, for instance, to reach their career path within the company.” Christelle sees positive signs within the company regarding the action that is being taken to the benefit of women. She encourages other companies to follow NXP’s initiatives. The ‘Women in NXP’ board contributes by organizing workshops and mentoring. In doing so, Christelle shows that a career within health and high-tech like hers is within arm’s reach.