Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Editor's Notes—Volume 38, Number 2, 2004

These words are being written in the second half of the thirty-eighth year of Analog Dialogue’s existence in print (Volume 38). That number, 38, is a relatively undistinguished number: it’s not a prime number—and even expressed as the product of two primes, 2×19, it is still not particularly interesting. One could perhaps stir up a little interest by noting that it’s also 2×(20–1) or 2×(2×2×5‑1)—or 2×(22(22+1)–1. But somehow, round numbers seem more interesting historically. Take, for example, 35 (=52)+5×2)), which is the number of years of service the undersigned will soon complete as the editor of this publication. For such occasions, in the same way as for alumni reunions, we celebrate only multiples of 5 years, while the in-between years, though equally long, go unrecognized (yet they inexorably accumulate the passage of time).

Much more interesting numerically, our editorial colleague, Scott Wayne, also celebrating a quintennium, has been at Analog Devices for a quarter century, 25 (=102/22) years. His personal reflections about that passage appear below.

In 1969 (Volume 3), the fourth year of existence for Analog Devices, our product catalog overwhelmingly comprised high-performance modular discretely assembled operational amplifiers; later augmented by our first data-converter family—inherited in our acquisition of Pastoriza Electronics, Inc. during that year. Five years later (Volume 8, 1974), solidly entrenched in the semiconductor op amp and analog-circuits business—and having become the world’s recognized leader in data converters—we introduced the AD7520, the first monolithic CMOS 10-bit DAC.

In 1979 (Volume 13), we acquired Computer Labs, in Greensboro, NC—extending our converter leadership into the high-speed market. (That year we also introduced a “box”—the ill-fated MACSYM integrated measurement-and-control system—which even had its own language—but within a few years, it had the misfortune to find itself in competition with products using the PC!). By 1984 (Volume 18), we had already introduced our first DSP ICs and were rapidly consolidating our lead in conversion ICs.

1989 (Volume 23) was the year in which we attained the across-the-board high ground in high speed, featuring the fast-slewing-and-settling AD843 and AD844 op amps, the 120-MHz AD640 log amp, 300-MSPS AD9028 8-bit flash ADC, and the 500-MHz AD834 analog multiplier. In 1993 (Volume 28), our highly successful SHARC®, entered the floating-point DSP fray, and ADI pushed the door open wider in high-speed RF analog with devices such as the 500-MHz AD831 mixer.
And just five years ago (1999, Volume 33), the communications world was revolutionized by the Othello direct-conversion radio chip set. Also in that year, we initiated joint publication of Analog Dialogue, on-line and in print, achieving at last the benefits of timely publication, and direct contact with our readers, while retaining the relative permanence of print.

Dan Sheingold

Dan Sheingold and I recently celebrated our respective 35th and 25th anniversaries at Analog Devices. At our service award dinner we learned that there were approximately 200 Massachusetts-based ADI employees who were also celebrating 15-, 20-, 25-, 30-, or 35-year anniversaries in 2004. This got me to thinking: If this were a typical year, at least 1,000 employees, or about 1/3 of ADI’s Massachusetts work force, would have more than 10 years’ tenure. How did this compare to other companies?

Consulting the US Department of Labor website, I was surprised to learn that this was not unusual. While the median length of time that employees have been with their current employer is only 3.7 years, fully 31% of workers have 10 or more years under their belt.

So, what makes an employee and a company want continue their association for such as long time? For me, it was a combination of such things as great co-workers, opportunities to do new things, constant challenges, continuous learning, and solid corporate management.

Trained as an electrical engineer, my first 20 career years were spent in design, starting with high-resolution converters in 2″×2″ modules. As customer demands changed and our technology evolved, I worked on our division’s earliest hybrid and compound-monolithic converter designs, later branching out into signal-conditioning and isolation products. I then transferred to the semiconductor division, working on bipolar and CMOS IC designs.

Five years ago I joined corporate marketing, where I am now doing teaching, editing, and publishing. Rather than feeling trapped in a single job for 25 years, I have progressed through a series of jobs, continually learning new things, encountering new challenges, and enjoying the benefits of closer contact with customers and a view of our products and fellow engineers with an extended horizon.

The biggest factor that many people cite as contributing to their longevity with a company is the people. (It may also be why people leave some companies.) Throughout my career at Analog I have been privileged to work with some of the best, brightest, and nicest people that you could hope to meet—people who seem more like friends or extended family than simply co-workers.
An additional way that companies motivate employees to stick around (and do their best) is by empowering them to make the decisions that they need to get their jobs done on a day-to-day basis with a minimum of oversight or bureaucracy.

There are of course more tangible considerations, such as salary, vacations, and other concrete benefits. They must be competitive with those of other employers. Although long-timers feel that they can get more spiritual satisfaction by staying with a company, yet others feel that they can get more material benefit (or eliminate sources of dissatisfaction) by leaving to join a new company.
We’ll welcome your feedback on what motivates people to stay with companies—or jump around—and to what degree they have that choice. In the newspapers, we seem to read only the horror stories—but perhaps that’s what sells papers!

Scott Wayne []


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