She studied electrical engineering from BMS College, Bengaluru, and following her marriage, moved to the US where she enrolled in a Master’s programme at University of Texas. Jaya walked a tightrope between career and family in more than one instance, and even juggled pregnancy and graduate school. She had her daughter in the last semester. “Yes, it was hard to manage,” she says. “But I had made a decision, and my passion for technology was enough to surpass any challenge.”
She took a year-long break before joining AMD’s Austin office as a design engineer in 1994, where she worked on the chip giant’s seventh generation processor, K7. She later worked with companies like Mentor Graphics and Analog Devices, before moving back to India with her family in 2004. A year later, she rejoined AMD as one of the first few employees when the firm started its operations in Bengaluru. Jaya became part of the India leadership team in 2011 as director, and today, as country head, AMD India, she leads a team of over 500 engineers. “We started with just a handful of engineers back when limited design work was done in India. Today, the India centre is pretty much on par with global standards and makes a significant contribution to the industry,” she says.
Women should embrace their femininity as their core strength and should lead the way by standing firm on what is right. Question the status quo, and don’t shy away from making bold decisions
Jaya Jagadish Country Head, AMD India
Personal aspirations are important, Jaya says, but as a leader, it’s even more important to prioritise your team’s and company’s goals. “The passion to make the firm successful is what makes people place their trust on the leader,” she says. It’s a testimony to Jaya’s leadership that many of the employees from the founding team today occupy senior positions in the company. Last year, she received the ‘Rising Woman of Influence’ award from the Global Semiconductor Alliance for her achievements as a woman leader.
While she acknowledges the gender disparity in the male-dominated industry which forces women to constantly prove themselves, Jaya hopes that in future, women leaders would just be called ‘leaders’. “It’s certainly more difficult for women to move up the corporate ladder due to the added pressure of balancing work and family. Which is why it’s important to have a strong support system in both places,” she says. “Women often tend to be more caring, and that can bring in the much required sensitivity to understand, comprehend and resolve many people-related issues. We do not need any special recognition, we just want equal opportunity and treatment,” she adds.