May 10, 2019

10 Questions with Senior IBM Engineer Jeanine Akiki

Jeanine Akiki is a proud native of Beirut, Lebanon who came to the U.S. in 1983.  She graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering from Western New England University in 1986 and earned an M.S. in electrical engineering in 1987 from The University of Vermont.  

Jeanine Akiki moderating a panel during a LebNet San Diego event (Image via LebNet)

Her career has spanned over 30 years with IBM and GlobalFoundries, including assignments in engineering, management and operations. She was recognized with an IBM Division Award for Management Excellence and holds a patent in I/O circuit design. Akiki retired from the semiconductor industry in August of 2018 and is now leading LebNet’s internship program. Her passion is to guide and enable success for students of Lebanese origin.

What’s the best lesson you learned?

Once your life starts with surviving a war, the rest of your journey is likely to get easier.  

If you can describe your journey in one sentence, what would it be?

An incredible and unpredictable journey: Starting with my innocent childhood in Lebanon to becoming an exec in a semiconductor company.

If you were to prioritize one aspect when hiring, which one would you pick: culture or skills?

I would prioritize culture over skills. I believe that it is attitude above aptitude that will take anyone to the highest altitudes. I consider the ability to meld and adapt well to a company’s culture to be very significant in developing an enthusiastic and productive team with a great sense of pride and belonging.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy cooking, hiking, reading and traveling.   

What excites you about the future?

The best part of the future is that it belongs to our children! I am in awe of the people they are and the great minds that they have developed for a better unprejudiced and unbiased world! Coupled with the amazing technological advances, I am hopeful that in their hands they will make this world a much better place.

If you had a rewind button, name one thing you would change in your journey?  

I would not change a thing on the career front! On the personal level, I will worry a bit less and enjoy more of it along the way! I would also get a lot more involved earlier with giving back to my community and to Lebanon.

What or who is your biggest support?

My family is my biggest fan and support group. Every member has been there along the way to support my endeavors, lift me up when I need it and applaud me when I succeed.

What are your three biggest accomplishments?

Our two kids for sure: I am grateful for them and for the amazing people that they are. My third accomplishment is successfully transplanting and growing roots in the US without forgetting my Lebanese identity and origin. The journey was arduous at times but so well worth it.

Who is your role model?

I am always so inspired by courageous women who were willing to put their lives on the line to change the world.  Women such as Pakistani Malala Yousafzai who campaigned for female education in the face of life-threatening danger and Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a racially-segregated bus to end segregation. Thankfully the list of heroins goes on and on.