Do What You Love And You'll Never Work A Day In Your Life

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It was all passion. That’s how Huang Xiao Hua had her start in engineering with KLA, an industry-leading global capital equipment manufacturer, 13 years ago.  

A Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate, Xiao Hua was sure of the subjects she liked, and even more certain of those she didn’t. That made pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (EEE) with a major in Optics at Nanyang Technology University an easy decision. 

Bright-eyed and ready to take on the world, Xiao Hua was thrilled when she landed a role at KLA shortly after graduating. Little did she know then that KLA would become home for the next 13 years and counting. 

Learning the ropes to scaling great heights

Xiao Hua’s journey began at age 24 as an Associate Test Engineer. Likening her job process to a medical doctor performing surgery, Xiao Hua shared that much of her work involves taking machines apart, identifying technical threats, eliminating them, before putting them all back together again with the highest standard of quality.  

She was given the opportunity early in her career to travel to KLA’s headquarters in California’s Silicon Valley, where she worked closely with design engineers on the ground. It was there that she got to witness firsthand how creative solutions were conceptualised and developed. Her passion for learning and contributing, not just across divisions but across continents, sent her globe-trotting to manage various projects around the world, from facilitating the transfer of technologies across offices, developing and introducing new product solutions, to client support and servicing. Her work brought her from Germany to Korea to Japan, such that almost three out of her first six years at KLA was spent abroad!  

Today, Xiao Hua manages production lines and develops add-ons for the enhancement of existing products as a Manufacturing Design Engineer. Think improving on Lego instructions, but a lot more complex! 

Although an individual contributor, collaboration is a word that Xiao Hua lives by. She believes that there is nothing more important than active collaboration especially in an environment where people are constantly working on the edges of deep science. Whether you’re an optics, systems, electrical or mechanical engineer, every individual plays an important role in designing solutions that transform the future.

More than just a job

When asked about her favourite part of the job, she shared, “The people at the firm are just like family to me.” In fact, Xiao Hua met her husband (also an engineer) there! The couple has been married for six years with a three-year-old year daughter.

Having seen her through so many life stages – from landing her first job to getting hitched, and having a child – it’s no surprise that Xiao Hua thinks of KLA as home. She has no lack of mentors and peers who serve as her source of encouragement both at work and outside. So close is the community that even after spending eight hours at work together, they often still catch up for a drink or two after work. 

Looking back on her journey so far, Xiao Hua shares: 

“You can’t find a culture quite like what I have at KLA. It doesn’t get better than this.” After all, it’s true what they say – if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. - Huang Xiao Hua, KLA

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