Gimme Five – Rodd Novak

Rodd Novak, chief marketing officer at Peregrine Semiconductor, talks to Steve Rogerson in our series of interviews for CIEonline. Novak has served as Peregrine Semiconductor’s chief marketing officer since 2010. He joined Peregrine in 2003 and has held various positions, including vice president of marketing, and vice president of sales and marketing.

Prior to joining Peregrine, Novak served in corporate marketing for both CTS and Northrop Grumman. He began his career as an electrical engineer with Comsat Laboratories and later moved to Xetron.

Novak received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a master of business administration degree from Xavier University.

His hobbies include staying in shape, spending time with his three daughters and supporting their hobbies (dance, football and competitive horse riding), mountain biking and snowboarding.

1. What is so special about Ultra CMOS technology?

First, we hit the tag line of changing RF design forever. We were able to harness the power of CMOS by changing the substrate to sapphire. This created an ideal situation. With that technology, we were able to bring about high linearity and put devices into the RF front-end where gallium arsenide (GaAs) and compound semiconductors were the route. We have displaced GaAs in the RF switch area and now we are looking at the PA section.

We want to push GaAs out of the front-end of the handset and replace it with SoI (silicon on insulator) and we see Ultra CMOS as the best SoI you can get.

2. Last year, Peregrine opened a design centre in Reading. What role is that now playing in your global operations?

It is naturally a standalone site with a full European flow. Designs originate from there, manufacturing is there. The flow is going through Europe. This is a good way to support our European customers. We have grown that group and they have produced products with high levels of integration. It also uses other facilities in Europe with testing in Germany and packaging in France. We have different channels in different countries with the devices coming out of different fabs.

We have put a number of relationships together in Europe because we have Reading. It will take time to truly develop. There is RF talent in the UK and that is one of the key reasons we set up there.

3. You have an engineering background but have spent most of your career in marketing. Why did you choose to go in that direction?

That was a long time ago. I went from designing satellite antennas to digital signal processing. I enjoyed finding applications and identifying where technology could be used to solve problems. I can identify markets where the technology can be advanced into. I proposed to the CEO to set up a group to look at moving technology from covert radio for government entities and apply it to the medical community as a patient monitoring telemetry system. We then supported FedEx for tracking parcels. It was a lot of fun. So, I’ve stuck with marketing and business development since then.

This blossomed to having a sales team beneath me and from there to where I am today, which is pure marketing. I am not sure what I love more. I still like the product side of things.

4. Personal fitness is clearly important to you. Why, and how much time do you spend on it?

We live in San Diego and it is about 24°C all year round, and so it is tough not to go out and be healthy. The company is a healthy company. The founder is in his high 60s and runs every day at lunch, and he has installed that culture in the company. We try to do something at lunch every day. It invigorates you and helps you function mentally. It keeps you at the top of your game. It is a good habit.

5. Peregrine Semiconductor is based in San Diego. Will that always be the case?

Yes, I believe it will. The last year and a half we have nearly doubled the number of people that work here and nearly doubled the production. We are opening another facility next month. We call this Telecoms Valley. There are good universities that feed in and the general culture of our organisation fits in with the San Diego area. We are highly competitive in the cellular handset area with the devices we produce here.

We kicked off here and have really dug in our roots. We are attracting new talent from round here. San Diego has turned out to be a growth area and we are glad we started out here.


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