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Multidisciplinary: Engineer’s Journey from Apprentice to Leader

Sep 29, 2022 4 min read

We caught up with Matt Hill, manufacturing manager, Allentown, Pennsylvania, who shares some thoughts with people seeking to explore new technologies and building a career with global opportunities.  

What attracted you to the company?

Most likely, the same thing that attracts people today: An opportunity to explore a new technology field and learn many new skills. Like a lot of people back then and now, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after secondary school. Fortunately, the Newport site has an excellent apprenticeship program, and it was and still is a fantastic opportunity to have on-the-job training and get exposure to many areas of the business. Anyone thinking about a technology career should seriously explore the apprenticeship route just as I did.  

How did this learning environment impact your career? ​

I began Newport’s four-year manufacturing apprenticeship upon joining the company in 2008. In addition to hands-on training within the manufacturing cleanroom and learning how to assemble and test our products, the apprenticeship also included attending college once a week where I studied electrical and electronic engineering. During my apprenticeship I was nominated for the Young Apprentice of the Year Award, during which I attended a lavish awards ceremony. This gave me the opportunity to celebrate with my fellow nominees and get an insight into how they were progressing through their apprenticeships. I was very fortunate to earn my Higher National Diploma near the end of my apprenticeship, while also gaining years of valuable job experience that helped to position me for growth.

Why have you stayed at KLA for 14 years?

I’ve never wanted to look for a job with a different company. I can honestly say I have loved all the positions I’ve had at KLA in Newport, Wales, U.K. and in the United States at the Allentown, Pennsylvania site. Each stage of my career has had its own challenges, but they have been very rewarding. The company has invested in me and my development and recognizes my contribution – I would do anything to help the company achieve its goals and be even more successful. It’s inspiring to see that same drive and loyalty in my fellow colleagues.

Tell us about your different positions.

After completing my apprenticeship in 2012, I always sought out and received more responsibility and opportunity, which is something I really appreciate about KLA. I quickly moved from a test trainee to test technician. In 2017, I was promoted to test engineer and focused on testing a range of our high-tech processing equipment. In the spirit of KLA’s learning and sharing culture, I also had the opportunity to train our next generation of test technicians. In 2021, I became a senior team leader and led key areas of manufacturing production before embarking on my current role as manufacturing manager at our Allentown site in 2022.

What have been some of your most impactful accomplishments?

During my time at the SPTS division in Newport, I led a winning continuous improvement project, which reduced product cycle time, resulting in valuable cost savings. I’m proud of our project team because this process is now an ongoing part of the business. My most impactful job move has been relocating to the U.S. to work as manufacturing manager and being part of the senior management team of the Release Etch business. I oversee a team of eight individuals and strategically plan, direct and coordinate the operations group to deliver on our manufacturing targets, while meeting our customer requirements. I’m grateful for this incredible opportunity and the trust KLA has placed in me, which keeps me motivated to deliver the hard work, dedication and results which are expected from me.

Why do you embrace KLA’s working culture?

It’s incredible to be part of such a successful global company, and I think KLA’s leadership has defined this culture right from the top. Our managers know how to lead their people the right way and get the best from their teams within an inclusive, supportive culture. Upon my travels to other KLA locations, I have noticed the culture is consistent around the world.  

What advice would you give to recent university graduates and experienced talent about working at KLA, including those without industry experience? 

Be patient. Hard work pays off. You must put in the hard work and effort; if you do, you will reap the benefits. KLA recognizes a strong work ethic and offers opportunities to grow based on your interests and abilities. Our managers work hard to identify potential and cultivate talent, which really builds confidence. There are so many development opportunities, including on-the-job as well as further education, often with paid support by the company. I’ve continued to seek out micro-credentials through Open University, and my end goal is to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA). I truly feel like opportunities are endless at KLA!

How have you adapted to living in the United States?

Now that we’re settled in the U.S., my wife and I, along with our two golden retrievers, Sully and Dusty, absolutely love it over here in Allentown. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. In my free time, I like to keep fit through training in the sport of CrossFit. We also like to take our dogs on long hikes, as well as having some chill out time by going to the movies.

To start your career at KLA, a World’s Most Admired Company, browse our job openings on the KLA careers page for the opportunities ahead.

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