OnQ Blog

Qualcomm #9 on Fortune's Best Places to Work List

Ah! It's good to be home!


Well, yeah, sort of. You see, up until three weeks ago, "home" was an office at Qualcomm, a residency I took up in January of 1992, where for the next 18 years I worked on the kinds of bleeding edge projects that make every engineer's head spin – in a good way! Quite recently, I set off to pursue other interests - in my case, writing and photography. Such is the curse of a company tenacious in its goal to hire engineers with diverse and creative passions; sometimes, they leave.

And that's me! As I type this blog entry I'm taking a break from producing a stop-motion animation version of one of my photos. You see, I recently learned that Qualcomm has once again been recognized in Fortune magazine's annual accounting of Best Places to Work, sailing in at number 9, yay! It's funny, as I was unpacking my boxes of "Qualcomm stuff" I came across a mini bottle of champagne given out to employees in celebration of making the list in 2001. I never opened the sparkly little thing, instead keeping it proudly on display in my office next to my various service awards (5 years... 10 years... 15 years...) as a constant reminder of the steps the company takes to promote a fun and exciting workplace.

Of course, the criteria used by the fine folks at Fortune to evaluate Company A versus Company B can never tell the real story of what it is to have the good fortune to work for Qualcomm. Sure, there are quantifiable benefits like salary, vacation, and health care. And resort-style amenities like volleyball courts and swimming pools (and I was never one to turn down a Padre game from the corporate box as reward for a job well done). All good stuff!

Wanna know the real reason Qualcomm is such a great place to work? Lean in a little closer and I'll tell you...

The value the company places on the top-tier skills of its engineers cannot be understated, and it is what truly sets Qualcomm apart from the vast majority of high tech competitors. Engineers are not just respected, they are honored. While success is often a foregone conclusion, remarkable accomplishment is what rules the day, and as an engineer you know you are working for a company that sees in you the ability to achieve The Fantastic.

In the many years I spent actively involved with the hiring of new engineering talent, I liked to tell prospective recruits (drooling at the opportunity to work for Qualcomm), that "... at every level of our management - from me clear up to the CEO - you have a top notch engineer who understands the challenges we face designing new technologies." Needless to say, this little nugget worked wonders, and remains true to this day.

Having now departed Qualcomm I'd like to thank the countless talented and tireless people I've worked with over the years. We've consistently hired Really Smart People, who also happen to be super nice, friendly, and enjoyable to be around. You will all be missed, and I wish everyone the best, as I no doubt expect the company to continue to pave new ground with exciting work in the future.

I'd also like to thank Irwin, Andrew Viterbi, Harvey, Klein, Dee and Franklin for having the courage and vision to build a new company out of ideas and energy first piloted at Linkabit. This group (and the seventh founder whose name escapes me and who I never had the pleasure of meeting) made a huge mark on the wireless industry, and turned the tiny high tech blip that was San Diego into a major landmark destination for the world's best engineers.

Most of all, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a company that places ethics and community involvement at the helm of its charter. It is quite gratifying to have shared in all the goodwill that Qualcomm has bestowed upon education and the arts within our local community, and I've always felt that the company's outward appearance was a glowing reflection of the manner with which we as employees are treated by our leaders.

Were the selection committee at Fortune able to put a number on that, surely, Qualcomm would snag the brass ring and proudly stand atop the pedestal as number one.

And so my short trip home is over, and it's back to my new gig of creating really weird photographs.

Thanks, it's been fun!

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