Q&A Interview – Judy Davies, Advantest
By GO SEMI & Beyond staff
As COVID-19 continues its global spread, tech conferences and tradeshows are being postponed or outright cancelled to help protect the health of attendees, exhibitors and organizers. Advantest joined this effort with its VOICE 2020 Developer Conference, cancelling the Shanghai event and rescheduling the U.S. event in Scottsdale, Arizona, to September 29-30. Judy Davies, VOICE Ambassador and vice president of Global Marketing Communications, Advantest America, shares the company’s perspective on the outbreak and its impact, and offers a hopeful note for our industry and our world post-pandemic.
Q. What made you decide to reschedule the U.S. event as a live conference later in the year instead of holding a virtual event?
A. We actually did put on a virtual event, but this did not extend to VOICE 2020, which we really want to keep on the calendar. When large events such as the Mobile World Congress and the SEMICON China and Korea shows were cancelled, we needed a way to get technical information out to our customers and users – especially those in Asia, the first region impacted by COVID-19. To that end, we held our first virtual tradeshow in early March. We had nearly 200 attendees from 47 countries, with sessions presented in multiple languages by a global group of speakers. It’s such a great example of everyone pulling together to demonstrate their commitment to the industry and their empathy for the situation that we’re all facing. Instead of backing out – which would have been understandable – all the presenters were eager to participate.
This attitude has carried over to our program for VOICE U.S. Instead of cancelling, we have opted to postpone VOICE 2020 because Advantest is a leader in sharing technical information and this event is so important to our customers. By choosing a date later in the year, we’re looking to strike a balance – doing what’s necessary now, while continuing to innovate and maintain our industry-leadership role. We hope and believe that, by September, holding VOICE U.S. in person will be feasible. Everyone involved with the event has been accommodating and encouraging, stepping up to reaffirm their participation. Each of our four keynote speakers is confirmed for the new dates, as are our sponsors and exhibitors.
Q. Optimism and team spirit is certainly important right now. How does the theme of VOICE 2020 reflect this attitude?
A. The theme of the conference this year is “Your Voice. Your Vision. Our Value.” Advantest is here to support our customers – we hear their voice, we see their vision, and we partner with them to make it a reality. It really embodies our own vision (Adding Customer Value in an Evolving Semiconductor Value Chain) and our “INTEGRITY” core values. We don’t just give lip service to this concept – integrity is central to everything we do. We put together VOICE with this in mind, developing a program that truly reflects what our customers want and need to know to help them do their jobs even better.
Q. Speaking of the program, who will be delivering the keynote addresses this year?
A. We have a stellar lineup that comprises experts from within and outside the industry. On September 29, we’ll feature two keynotes on the future of test and technology. First, Steve Pateras, director of marketing for the Test Automation Group at Synopsys, will deliver a speech titled “Test Evolves – New Access to Adaptive Learning.” Following Steve will be Dr. Kate Darling, research specialist with MIT Media Labs. An expert in robotic ethics, Dr. Darling will discuss the future of human-robot interactions. On September 30, Dan Hutcheson, the well-known CEO of VLSIresearch Inc., will address 5G, IoT, AI and other critical IC markets, as well as some of the key industry trends he has identified and is following. Last, but not least, Fredi Lajvardi, vice president of STEM Initiatives at the Si Se Puede Foundation, will share his fascinating story about how he turned a group of high school students into a national-champion robotics team, beating top-ranked teams at the university level. I’m really excited to see all of these speakers.
Q. What else will VOICE 2020 hold in store for attendees?
A. The technical program has become known for the richness of the content provided. Our focus this year is on 5G with the theme being “5G: Made Real by Our Customers, Made Possible by Advantest.” Again, the focus is always on the customer and on the role we can play in helping them bring their ideas and plans to fruition. The program will feature nearly 70 papers divided into seven tracks, including new tracks on 5G/millimeter wave, parametric test and hot topics such as AI and machine learning. We’ll also feature our Partners Expo and several networking opportunities, including the off-site welcome reception and technology showcase on Monday night, September 28. And immediately following VOICE, we will conduct the Workshop Day on October 1.
Q. What else would you like readers to know?
A. I just want to reiterate how grateful I am to everyone involved with VOICE. This includes not only our keynote speakers, sponsors and other participants, but also our marketing team and the VOICE steering committee for all the hard work they’ve put in to make these events happen. Especially when there’s so much uncertainty right now, I can’t imagine being part of a company that is any more focused on partnering with and showing compassion for its customers.
I read recently a couple of quotes that summarize the notion that we’re all in the same boat, so to speak. Xiaomi, a Chinese consumer electronics company, donated thousands of face masks to Italy’s government, and on the crates was printed a quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca: “We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden.” Similarly, boxes of masks sent to China from Japan bore a quote from a Tang dynasty poem reading, “Foreign lands separated by mountains and rivers, we share the wind and moon under the same sky.”
Now, more than ever, these quotes truly resonate for Advantest. We have 5,000 employees, more than 80% of whom are located outside of the U.S., but we are all part of one world, and we are resilient. Things may be challenging right now, but we’ll get through it, together.