Dr. Ted Tewksbury is President and CEO of Integrated Device Technology (www.IDT.com), the world leader in silicon timing solutions. He earned his BS in Architecture in 1983 and his SM and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1987 and 1992, respectively. After starting his career as a design engineer at Analog Devices,
Tewksbury held positions as Sr. Engineering Manager at IBM Microelectronics, Managing Director at Maxim Integrated Products and President and Chief Operating Officer of AMI Semiconductor. Today, as CEO, Dr. Tewksbury is leading a dramatic turnaround of the 31-year old IDT from a digital component vendor to a leading provider of analog-intensive mixed-signal solutions for cloud computing, 4G communications infrastructure and mobility. Dr. Tewksbury serves as a Director on the Boards of Integrated Device Technology (IDTI), Entropic Communications (ENTR) and the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA).
Some people take a straight road to their destination. Mine was a nonlinear journey of exploration. Growing up, I was driven by two competing passions. One side of me was creative and loved designing and building things. The other side was analytical and loved math and physics. I dreamed of going to MIT because it was the best technical university in the world.
I started at MIT as a physics major but found that it didn’t provide an adequate outlet for my creative side. Half way through my sophomore year, I took a year off to “find myself”, driving a cab in Boston to earn money for school. I returned to MIT in the architecture department, which I loved because it reconciled my creative and engineering passions. After completing my BS, I was admitted to the MArch program on scholarship, but the hard sciences continued to beckon, and I indulged my curiosity by taking classes in physics, electrical engineering, biology, law, economics, business and other subjects. It was the ultimate ‘renaissance’ education.
One day, I wandered into an analog circuit design course (6.301) being taught by the incomparable Jim Roberge. It changed my life. Analog circuit design was the ultimate combination of physics and creative design. I switched my career direction and took the entire EECS undergrad curriculum in the next two years.
The second defining moment occurred when I met Professor Harry Lee in EECS. Harry took a chance on a wayward architecture student and made me an RA in the Microsystems Technology Labs (MTL). This led to my admission to the department of EECS, followed by an MSEE and PhD specializing in solid-state physics and analog circuit design. In addition to providing a deep technical foundation, EECS influenced my career in myriad ways. Harry inspired a lifelong interest in data converters; the breadth of disciplines to which I was exposed, spanning device physics, circuit design, software and systems, enabled my cross-functional career mobility; the open and free flow of ideas within MTL served as a model for the collaborative corporate cultures I would later build.
With my PhD from MIT in hand, I went to work for Analog Devices as a design engineer, where I learned how to parlay academic knowledge into manufacturable products. Early on, I realized the power of enlightened management -- by creating the conditions under which other engineers could excel, I could amplify the entire organization’s creativity and productivity. As manager of ADI’s joint development program with IBM in the ‘90’s, I became a vocal proponent of SiGe BiCMOS. This got me noticed by Dr. Bernie Meyerson, IBM Fellow and inventor of the technology, who later hired me as Manager of IBM’s SiGe products group.
At IBM Microelectronics, I learned how to manage engineering on a large scale -- building and leading the team that developed the industry’s first commercial SiGe RF components and data converters. This attracted the attention of Jack Gifford, the founder and former CEO of Maxim, who recruited me as Managing Director, my first opportunity running businesses as well as engineering. I founded Maxim’s high-speed data converter and high-performance RF business units and eventually ran eleven business units, introducing well over a hundred new products in six years. From Jack, I learned the art of product definition and disciplined metrics-driven financial and operational execution.
By this time, I had developed a reputation in the industry as a serial ‘intrapreneur,’ building high-performance teams and new businesses within established companies. When the Board of AMI Semiconductor needed a President and Chief Operating Officer to revitalize the company, I jumped at the chance to expand my skills by running manufacturing and operations. After a successful turnaround and sale of AMI, I was recruited to Integrated Device Technology for my first CEO position.
I never set out to be a CEO. I just wanted to be a great engineer and create innovative products. Along the way, I discovered that I could do this more effectively through increasing management roles. At every stage of my career, my singular goal was to be the best in the world at whatever I was doing, but I seized opportunities to stretch my skills in new directions, including management, finance, sales, manufacturing, operations, investor relations, mergers and acquisitions. They don’t teach all of these in school, but MIT teaches you how to think and learn effectively in new situations. Completing a PhD is invaluable because it instills the confidence to delve into the unknown, learn what’s important, solve new problems and deliver results. My career progressed rapidly because I earned a reputation for execution, I surrounded myself with the best people, I worked for strong mentors and I developed an extensive industry network.
In retrospect, my multidisciplinary journey through MIT prepared me well to be a CEO. The ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated fields and ideas is the key to innovation. As Steve Jobs frequently said “creativity is connecting things” — or as my MIT architecture professor, Maurice Smith, used to put it, we need to ‘think associatively.’ Today’s technology and business leaders must be technical, multidisciplinary and adaptable. MIT is only the beginning but, whether you take the direct route or the circuitous path as I did, it provides the tools to go the