Rubina Azizdin: Striving to Create a More Diverse and Inclusive Organizational Culture

In April of 2021, Kulicke & Soffa Industries welcomed Rubina Azizdin as its first Global Program Manager of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Soon after her arrival, she embarked on a mission to build the organization’s D&I function from scratch. Strategies implemented by her have created a more diverse and inclusive organizational culture across the company’s presence in 8 countries. Rubina’s role has been instrumental in improving the D&I alignment for Kulicke & Soffa’s 2,800+ employees, who work at different locations around the world.

Prior to joining Kulicke and Soffa, Rubina served as Director of the Women in STEM Network at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. She began her career as a counselor at a non-profit mental health organization, where she provided counseling to families on behavior intervention strategies for school-aged children in underserved communities. Rubina then transitioned to academia. She worked in numerous higher education institutions in different roles, including teaching and as full-time staff.

In 2017, Rubina was first Female South Asian and woman of color who received the West Shore Chamber’s Luminary Shining Star Award. It recognized her as a new and upcoming leader, and for her, it is the best recognition she has received to date. “This was a huge honor as I was the first woman of color to receive this honor, and also, it is and was a very prestigious award,” she says. “I never thought that I would be selected for it.” This award resulted in her gaining a very strong positive reputation in her local community. And, at the time, little did she know that the award was the beginning of many more recognitions to come, including being featured on the cover of Susquehanna Style Magazine and was named a woman of strength.

Driving Fundamental Changes

Throughout Rubina’s life and career, many people not only took time out to help her but also encouraged her to excel in her educational and professional objectives. These individuals greatly inspired and influenced her decision to pursue roles that could transform workplaces, making a difference in people’s lives.

“Throughout my career in higher education and business, I have been motivated to work with individuals, departments, teams, and organizations to build inclusive cultures,” Rubina says.

Her foray into the D&I leadership arena has offered her the opportunity to work with organizations to drive fundamental organizational changes. These changes have led to a culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging.

Rubina is deeply committed to fostering inclusive cultures that drive organizational excellence, employee satisfaction, and sustainable growth.

Lessons Learned Over the Years

Rubina has encountered numerous challenges and roadblocks over the years. One of the first major challenges she faced came from within. She underestimated her potential. Gradually, she learned that if she wanted her career to move forward, she had to be her own advocate. She also learned that work experience was not the only experience that employers were looking for.

When she joined professional organizations and served on boards and committees, Rubina began to understand both her place in society and in the workforce. This also gave her an opportunity to learn from other more experienced professionals and networks. As she gained experience, Rubina learned that one should not hesitate to approach decision-makers directly and ask for an opportunity for promotion or growth within a company.

Rubina also used to think that having children would hinder her ability to grow professionally. She felt that it would be hard for her to maintain a balance between various responsibilities. However, upon becoming a mother, she discovered that it helped her become better at balancing different aspects of her life. And, her work, she says, “helped me step out of my mom mindset, offering me an outlet to do something for myself.”

About Kulicke & Soffa 

Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Inc., established in 1951, specializes in developing cutting-edge semiconductor and electronics assembly solutions enabling a smarter and more sustainable future. Their ever-growing range of products and services supports growth and facilitates technology transitions across large-scale markets, such as advanced display, automotive, communications, compute, consumer, data storage, energy storage and industrial. As the company is focused on technology, Rubina and her team continuously invest in making sure that their team members, particularly their engineers, scientists, software engineers, and other tech professionals, stay vigilant about emerging technologies as well as market trends and demand analysis. They focus on ensuring that their team members are equipped with the latest knowledge in three ways.

First, the leadership team, according to Rubina, ensures that their engineers and technologists aggressively pursue continuing educational opportunities to keep their knowledge and skills at top-tier competitive levels. The company also provides compensation incentives and rewards to team members who contribute to breakthrough innovations. “We incentivize individual contributors, managers, and teams for exercising collaborative approaches to accelerate innovations that benefit our customers and the marketplace,” says Rubina.

Kulicke and Soffa expects its managers to support the career growth objectives of their team members and help them receive external recognition by having their research work, product patents, and licenses published.

“All of our leaders lead by example, modeling respectful and ethical behavior,” Rubina says. “We also have mandated training review ethical practices and policies for everyone.” She also highlights that the company is very transparent in communication at all levels and holds everyone accountable for their actions by having clear ethical policies in place.

And Kulicke & Soffa strives to create a diverse and comfortable atmosphere at each of our worldwide locations, where employees are provided with every opportunity to grow both professionally and personally.

Creating Comprehensive Strategies

Kulicke & Soffa’s growth and vision have been sharpened by creating a comprehensive D&S strategy which focuses on four primary areas that Rubina and her team refer to as workstreams.

These workstreams are: Stakeholder Engagement & Messaging Strategies; Leadership Commitment to Vision and Change; Awareness, Education, and Learning; and Community Engagement to Support ESG goals and D&I Committee Goals, Accountability, and Measurement (Metrics/KPIs).

This multi-faceted strategy, according to Rubina, serves to provide structure, guidance, and collaboration across the organization to determine the best long-term decisions and strategies that will drive long-term profitable growth for the company.

Rubina says that the Global D&I Committee, led by her, is directly involved in the process of assessing the current state of each of the workstreams. After that, the committee makes recommendations for increasing the effectiveness of certain DEI and employee engagement strategies, with the aim of optimizing the company’s investments and commitments. Rubina explains that this is to ensure that all employees feel they belong and are welcome to contribute their knowledge, skills, and abilities, using their unique perspectives and styles. 

Working with Every Individual

Rubina collaborates with various departments across the company. She says that her job involves working with every individual working in the company. And she does not have a typical day; each day is different in her role, bringing in different interactions and tasks. “Every day, I am always working on something new or different or with a different individual,” she says. “I could be in PA one day, and Singapore the next day.”

As Rubina is spearheading Kulicke & Soffa’s D&I initiatives and transforming its culture and environment, she has a very demanding schedule, often involving travel. So, how does she maintain a work-life balance? She says that she does not have a set balance or a set routine because she works for a global company. Her workdays vary significantly; some days, her meetings end by 1 p.m., while on other days, the meetings could last until 3 a.m. Her work schedule largely depends on who she is working with and what side of the world they are from.

Rubina maintains a personal schedule as well as a professional one. And she makes sure to set her priorities and goals for work.

Plans for the Future

Under Rubina’s leadership, the company plans to continue its DEI education and training initiatives to further equip its people managers with the personal awareness and commitment required to significantly change the workplace. She is implementing strategies that will lead to creating a culture of belonging, where people are not encouraged to fit in at the expense of their unique identity. Instead, Rubina and her team plan to intensify their efforts to create a culture where people are genuinely connected to each other.

Furthermore, Rubina says that the DEI education and awareness programs are designed to strengthen the company’s people managers’ skills and competencies. She expects that this will effectively lead to the retention of a competitive global workforce.

“Perhaps one of the most exciting initiatives that will be implemented is the Business Resource Group initiative,” she informs. “We will charter several BRGs representing a broad range of personal and professional identities.”

Success and Goals

Success, for Rubina, means doing one’s very best to achieve the best possible outcomes and appreciating the personal growth gained from each experience. Her experience has taught her that when she focuses on achieving positive outcomes, this also contributes to the success of other people.

Rubina’s personal goals are to keep growing and educating herself in her field. “DEI is constantly changing in views, policies, or processes,” she says. “So, it is my responsibility to keep on top of the trends and stay informed.”

Passion for DEI

In her line of work, Rubina points out, it is essential to be a people person with empathy and understanding, and not everyone can excel in this field. Working in the DEI space requires a passion for it, and it should be seen as a calling. “One must also be able to speak from lived experiences,” Rubina says.

As a DEI practitioner, one must draw from first-hand experiences and feelings, not depend on other people’s stories, she says, adding, DEI professionals must have an open mind as well.

Message to Aspiring Women Leaders 

Rubina has benefitted immensely from the help provided by others. Thus, her first piece of advice to aspiring leaders is to find and follow mentors. She highlights that schools do not teach students how to thrive in their careers; this is something one learns on the job by asking questions and learning from others. “So, it is important to have a network of professionals who can support you in learning critical career lessons and achieving your goals,” Rubina says.

She also advises aspiring leaders to never think that they are at the top of their career, no matter how high in leadership they may be, as there is always room for growth. “Also don’t be afraid to seek opportunities for growth within your company,” she tells aspiring women leaders.