21st Aug 2013

As profits fall Applied Materials names new CEO

The Silicon Valley based semiconductor equipment vendor Applied Materials last week announced a leadership change. Michael Splinter (62), who has been CEO for the last decade, is stepping aside while Gary Dickerson (56) will take on the chief executive role, effective September 1. Splinter will remain on as executive chairman. Applied Materials manufactures semiconductor, solar panel and LCD display products. The semiconductor equipment industry has suffered in recent years, and during Splinter’s tenure at Applied Materials the company both lost and regained its coveted No. 1 spot.

The corporation’s fiscal third-quarter results – revealed last week – missed estimates, revenue having fallen 16% due to a drop in demand. The same day the leadership shake-up was announced. This is a continuously fluctuating market, and Applied Materials’ profitability reflects this.

Dickerson, an internal appointee, is a veteran of the industry. He spent 18 years at KLA-Tencor Corp where he earned a steady rise though the ranks to the position of COO and president. And for seven years he served as CEO of Varian Semiconductor Equipment until its acquisition by Applied Materials in 2011. Dickerson has been president of Applied Materials since June 2012.

In a press release issued by Applied Materials Dickerson confirmed his hopes for the future, "Today, Applied Materials enjoys a stronger foundation than ever before on which to build momentum for growth… We have better and broader technology, very deep talent and the passion to drive the materials innovation that will provide the device performance and yield solutions our customers need to advance and win.”

With over 25 years experience in the industry, including a stint as a CEO, Dickerson is well placed to steer Applied Materials towards new growth. And as an experienced leader he is no doubt already planning his transition. Economically speaking we live in tumultuous times, and it is more important than ever to make an impact early on in a leadership role. Dickerson’s first 100 days in role will be interpreted as a forecast of his future leadership potential, so it is crucial that he transitions effectively. Dickerson can ensure than he achieves this with the aid of a comprehensive and clearly directed first 100 days plan. And if he stays on track and maintains progress for the first 100 days, hopefully he can continue to do so beyond that.

Hilda Goold

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