Please tell us about yourself

Her work at IBM involving important technology that went into the XBox and PlayStations that’s also been used in wireless and high-end servers. “Prior to that it was always difficult to explain to people what I did. Then when you start talking to 10-year-olds who are sort of attached at the hip to their XBoxes I always say, ‘Oh yeah, I made the stuff that goes in there.'”

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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

Sujatha Sankaran’s parents were both doctors while she was growing up in India so the pressure for her to do the same was intense. But she thought otherwise. “That was not the field for me,” she says. “Just the thought of it made me queasy.”

“Working with numbers and equations was a lot better for me,” she adds. “It sounds a little crazy but I’ve actually wanted to be a physicist from the time I think I was 10 or 11.”
Luckily, her older sister went on to become a surgeon and Sankaran was supported in her studies in physics.

What did you study?

I did my Ph.D. (Physics) from University at Albany, master’s degree from University of Madras, bachelor’s degree from Stella Maris

Please tell us about your work

Her work has a pervasive influence in the marketplace and she loves the pace at Global Foundries, where she leads 140 people. She now develops products that will go into the market five years from now. “My job is to enable all the semiconductor processes to help the future products,” she says. “It’s a lot of conceptualization followed by trying things out and actually making things happen.” She can be overseeing 15 to 20 major projects at a given time. “It’s a challenge. And it’s a very fast-paced environment. There are a lot of unknowns,” Sankaran says. “The other piece I really enjoy is the team I work with. It’s great to have some really sharp people working toward a specific end goal and being part of a winning team.”

How is the future for the semiconductor industry?

It’s a field mostly dominated by men, but she sees that changing. And she has this advice for girls looking to enter her field: “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. There will be many instances where you will feel like you’re the odd one out but it’s OK. There’s a lot to be gained by being the odd one out.”
As for downtime, she spends a lot of time outdoors. “And this year, I bought myself a Corvette.”