The tech recession may be slamming Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM ), but these are nonetheless busy times for Shang-yi Chiang, TSMC's senior vice-president for research and development. The slowdown in chip production has made it possible for his 460 engineers to step up their research on next-generation chipmaking techniques. "During a recession, people have much more energy to spend on R&D," he says. While the rest of TSMC is under a hiring freeze, Chiang is expanding his staff by 10%.
A Stanford PhD with 23 years' experience at U.S. tech companies, Chiang, 55, has transformed TSMC's R&D staff since he joined the company in 1997. Back then TSMC was content to offer low-end technology. Now it's a world-class manufacturer of state-of-the-art products such as 12-inch silicon wafers. Chiang loves to hike, but he can't do much of that these days. Slow times for the industry mean overtime for him.