Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Bruce McWilliams featured in Physics World, July 2009
Bruce McWilliams (CMU PhD graduate 1980) has been featured in the July 1, 2009 issue of Physics World entitled "Once a Physicist: Bruce McWilliams". Bruce McWilliams is chairman of the board of directors at Tessera, a semiconductor packaging, imaging and optics company based in San Jose, California, US. Between 1999 and 2008 he also served as Tessera’s president and chief executive officer.
In the article, he was asked "How has your physics training affected your approach to business?". His reply was as follows: "Business and physics are very similar in that if you can precisely define the problem, you have done 80% of the work in solving it. I have found that as a chief executive, you basically show up every day and find a new problem waiting for you. It might be an employee threatening to quit or a customer who is upset or a problem in manufacturing, but if you love solving problems, then you will like being a chief executive. Also, physics is the perfect training for working in technology, because the field moves very quickly; if you are grounded in the fundamentals, you can always understand what is going on. What physics does not, however, give you is people skills, so you have to develop those. Business in general is not best learned in the college classroom but by doing it — by being in the foxhole with bullets going over your head."
McWilliams is a member of the board of directors for Intermolecular, Inc., a molecular engineering electronics company, and is also on the board of trustees of Carnegie Mellon University. In 2005, he was awarded Ernst & Young’s Northern California Entrepreneur of the Year award. He actively participates in the Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology in the Physics Department at Carnegie Mellon University.