Semiconductor firm offers road map for staff to drive careers forward

Apart from providing many opportunities for its talent to excel at work, KLA fosters pride with an impressive list of community projects

KLA hosts interest groups to promote healthy lifestyles and foster staff bonding. Among them is their participation in The Straits Times Run. Photo taken during the 2019 edition. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): KLA

Out of the more than 300 staff KLA Corporation hired in Singapore last year, employee referral surpassed other hiring channels as the top source of hiring. That, and a staff tenure of 6.6 years is testament to its reputation as an employer of choice.

The Silicon Valley-based Fortune 500 company employs over 12,400 employees all around the world, and over 1,000 employees in Singapore. It has operations in 19 locations, producing process control and process enabling solutions for the semiconductor and related industries.  It set up a branch here in 1996. 

This year, KLA  has been named one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, which is a definitive and highly respected report card on corporate reputation.

KLA makes sure it repays the faith shown by employees through many ways, from rolling out structured career development roadmaps to ensuring employee safety and well-being during the pandemic. 

Mr Peter Anish, manufacturing manager, who has been with the firm for more than seven years, says KLA has given him “an opportunity to clearly set and achieve career goals. The vast training opportunities abroad have given me wide exposure to different cultures and opportunities”.

He started out as an associate test engineer before moving up the ranks. “Long-term career goals can be set during performance management and discussed with managers, who provide great support to guide you on the right path,” he adds.

Promoting from within is part of KLA’s modus operandi — with the current global CEO starting off as an applications engineer.   
The chance to move laterally and vertically is supported by robust training programmes, while those newer to the industry can tap on mentorships, internships and scholarships with local universities that KLA actively partners with since 2018. 

Manufacturing design engineer Huang Xiao Hua has seen many instances of job redesign and expansion in job roles, like engineers becoming trainers for worldwide service groups, in her 15 years with the company. She started as an associate test engineer before ascending to her current role.

Mr Anish says: “KLA always has new projects and improvements that keep employees engaged. This innovative culture coupled with cross-functional collaboration and support is the main reason people tend to stay longer with KLA.”

KLA is ranked one of Singapore’s best employers in 2022, according to a list compiled by The Straits Times and global research firm Statista. It is the 14th best company overall, and is ranked second in the semiconductors, electronics, electrical engineering, technology hardware & equipment category.

Family-like working environment

Another key reason why employees rate KLA highly is the company culture.

“Working at KLA is more than just a job and my favourite part is that the people here are just like family to me,” says Ms Huang. “I have no lack of mentors and peers who serve as my source of encouragement both at work and outside.”

Under the Employee Assistance Programme which is made available 24 hours a day, staff can go on a one-to-one session with a specialist whenever they face work or life challenges, and these efforts have been ramped up since the start of the pandemic.

During the pandemic, KLA distributed a care package containing useful work-from-home and Covid-preparedness items worth $200 each to all staff, and team members can take a paid half-day off post-vaccination. 

KLA has also housed Malaysian staff – who are unable to return home – in hotels during the pandemic. Employees who have to travel for work during the pandemic receive a premium on top of the typical per diem, and all necessary medical insurance or costs are covered. 

On top of the quarterly townhall-style meetings at office-wide and divisional levels, managers are encouraged to step up their 1:1 meetings during the pandemic to ensure quicker, more consistent decision-making.

Recently, the company initiated an action plan on workload management and how to avoid burnout, and, in a bid to retain its talent, introduced twice-yearly salary reviews last year.

Enjoying life outside work

KLA employees volunteered to plant 60 trees for the Plant-A-Tree Programme by One Million Tree Movement in February 2022. PHOTO: KLA

Outside of working hours, the company hosts a number of interest groups from badminton to tap out to promote healthy lifestyles and foster staff bonding. It also provides a complimentary yearly health screening.
And it is active in giving back to the community, fostering pride among employees that they work for a company that cares.

From 2018 to 2020, KLA was the largest corporate entrant in The Straits Times Run, with more than 800 participants in the 2020 virtual edition.      

Volunteers conduct yearly mock interviews with Metta School students in Simei to prepare them for entry into the workforce. 

Partnering with the Lion Befrienders which cares for vulnerable seniors, KLA last year distributed more than 3,000 goodie bags and medical essentials. 

In the most recent initiative, volunteers worked with NParks, and alongside with the firm’s country president, the management staff and employees planted 60 trees for the environment.

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