What Is It Like to Be a MEMS Foundry CEO Amid Covid-19?

By May 21, 2020February 10th, 2021In the News
microelectromechanical systems - MEMS

As Covid-19 imposes strict measures and urges people to change their work and life routines, it’s important to understand how executives are adapting to these unprecedented circumstances. EE Times Europe spoke to Jessica Gomez, cofounder and CEO of Rogue Valley Microdevices Inc. (Medford, Ore.), to discover what she has implemented to maintain or even expand activity levels during the coronavirus crisis. 

A full-service precision MEMS foundry, Rogue Valley Microdevices specializes in MEMS device fabrication and silicon wafer services, including LPCVD nitride, oxide, metal and resist spray coat. Founded in 2003, it now employs 25 people. 

Taking Safety and Health Measures

In these times of Covid-19 pandemic, the usual salutation of ‘how are you?’ takes on a different dimension, and Gomez understood the nuance. She answered frankly, “I feel better now than I did when we first started to realize that we would be under lockdown as a state.”

No doubt it has been challenging, and her main concern has been to ensure everyone stays healthy and safe during this time of heightened concern. “Our employees work really hard. We wanted to make sure our employees felt safe about going to work.” Rogue Valley Microdevices has put in place temperature checks at the door so that employees can measure their own temperature and answer a self-assessment.

Taking technical measures is essential, but communicating and relating for well-being are just as important. “You clean, you wash, you put in place measures where only one or two people can be in a room at the same time. That makes people feel a little better, but really the communication has to be as consistent as possible.”

Managing Employee Concerns and Emotions

These are unprecedented times. Naturally, people experience mixed feelings. They may feel anxiety, even waves of panic when reading news headlines. When people ask ‘what do we do?’ Gomez said her role has been to provide stability and reassurance, “It’s ok, we have a plan, and we are going to handle this.” 

Jessica Gomez (Image: Rogue Valley Microdevices)

A sick child, parent or partner, and people may feel emotional distress. In response, Gomez said she has to provide as much flexibility as possible. “You need to take the time and speak with people about what’s going on.”

And to make people feel comfortable in their work environment, Gomez said Rogue Valley has been paying everyone his or her full salary whether he or she is going to work or not, “because we wanted to make sure everyone was open with us about what’s going on. I have had to send some people home and say ‘sorry, but you are going to be home for two weeks from now. It has been an exercise of vigilance on communication.”