Maria Montero

Engineer Focus: Tony Armstrong of Analog Devices

Tony Armstrong, Director of Business Development for Industrial Energy, Healthcare and Consumer at Analog Devices, Inc., shares his thoughts in an interview with AAC about smart risks, big thoughts, and the importance of reading data sheets.

Throughout his long and broad career spanning two continents, Tony Armstrong has worked in a variety of different positions.

In an insightful interview with Mark Hughes of All About Circuits at APEC, Armstrong shares what he thinks makes engineers better, what simple things EEs can do to make fewer mistakes, and how he found his dream job in the field.

Mark Hughes (AAC): What brought you to the field and what brought you to where you are today?

Tony Armstrong (TA): I was born in England and went to college at the University of Manchester in the north of England and studied applied mathematics. Y obviously that mathematics involved many different aspects and fundamentals of electricity, and magnetism was one of those. Y basicallyIt’s a bit of engineering, but only the math, not the applied part. And when I graduated in the early 80s, I thought, “Well, what am I going to do for a job?” And one of my colleagues had told me that a company called Intel was interviewing people down in swindon.

I interviewed them and they offered me a job. So in 1981, I joined Intel in Swindon, England. And at the time there were a lot of expats in the facility, so I had a lot of exposure with the Americans. One of the things in those days was this “can do” attitude that was present in everything they did. And I thought, “Wow, these guys are great! No matter what the problems are, you just come up with a solution, solve it, and move on. This is great. I have to go to America because I want to do more of this.”

AAC: And how did you end up in America?

RESERVE ARMY: I asked Intel, “Hi guys, can I move to America?” And they said, “Well, you’ve only been here two or three years. You really need a couple more years under your belt.” I was a bit disappointed by that, so I asked a couple of friends if they knew of anyone who was looking for people in America. And one of my colleagues said, “Hey, there is a company called Fairchild and they are interviewing in the future.”

So I gave them a call, they interviewed me and they said, “Tony, we’d like you to come to the United States to visit.” So I walked over, I had a visitor. They like me.I liked them. They offered me the job. And on January 31, 1984 I was on PanAm 101 from London Heathrow to San Francisco.

AAC: What was your first position with them?

RESERVE ARMY: Fairchild had a discreet division in San Rafael. He made diode arrays, MOSFETs, and I was in production control at the time. I got to know the product line and asked to move on to product marketing and they let me move.

One of the guys I had worked for he had left the division and gone to a trade in Southern California, a company called Semtech. And after he was there while he called me and asked me if I would come work for him because he had some big problems to solve and he wanted me to help him solve them.

So I went down there and stayed for eleven years. I started in production control, then I ran product test group And then I he got into Product marketing and then sales. That was an eleven year history.

AAC: Why did you decide to leave that company?

RESERVE ARMY: My wife felt that we should have a change, and we were looking for opportunities in the industry. I ended up going to work for Siliconix in the Bay Area in 1997. And Siliconix made a lot of MOSFETs but they had a small growing power CI group at the time, and I came in to lead product marketing for the power CI groups.