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A Conversation with Charlie Kawwas: The Importance of Innovation and R&D at Broadcom

Connected by Broadcom

Broadcom is connecting everything. Our technology both semiconductor and infrastructure software—powers the most complex IT environments in the world and touches everyday life — from the latest mobile and home devices to the Cloud, to service provider networks, to software and critical infrastructure. The Connected by Broadcom interview series features discussions with leaders who partner with Broadcom to take their business to the next level.

When we started the “Connected by Broadcom'' series, we set out to demonstrate what Broadcom was doing to connect the digital ecosystem. And so, who better to kick off our third season than Charlie Kawwas, the executive responsible for all of Broadcom’s semiconductor businesses? In his role as the President of the Semiconductor Solutions Group at Broadcom, Charlie’s insights on the role played by innovation and partnership are particularly timely as the world navigates the challenges of a post-Covid era. Here are the highlights from our conversation:

Simplicity in Execution

As an engineer, Charlie has stuck with a basic precept throughout a long and accomplished career: keep things simple. And it’s an approach that’s worked quite well for Broadcom. Instead of overthinking situations, he underscored the need to be adaptable and decisive. In other words, make decisions, execute them in practice and then move on. Also, our flat organizational structure ensures accountability at all levels and across all functions. This is particularly important as we drive each of our businesses to be competitive and to be able to lead on its own without being dependent on others. It’s how we build a “sustainable franchise.”

As Charlie highlights, in our journey to build sustainable franchises, we think in terms of a 10-year horizon. We want to make sure that it's a proven product line in a sizable market and likely to have staying power – even if it’s not in a fast growth area. There’s also the question of technology leadership. That’s a function of hiring the best and brightest engineers and out-investing the competition to drive innovation. Lastly, the business itself has to demonstrate performance from a P&L/operating margin perspective. Over the years, that basic formula – combining engineering innovation with flawless execution – has produced consistent excellence.  

A Leader in Innovation and R&D

At Broadcom, we spend a lot of time thinking about where the company needs to focus next as our teams build their product roadmaps. And by out-investing the competition from an R&D perspective, Charlie maintains that Broadcom has demonstrated long, qualitative engineering and technology advantages over others in the market.

Broadcom invests $5 billion annually in pure research and development. That’s money spent directly on engineers, an investment that ultimately translates into great research and development work. As Charlie noted, there’s nothing static about technology; the state of the art is always changing. And so from Broadcom’s perspective, it’s critical that we keep raising the bar during these inevitable technology transitions and deliver innovation.

The upshot: seamless execution with results that set the company apart.

Broadcom invests $5 billion annually in pure research and development.

Also, Broadcom is much more than just a financially well-run semiconductor maker. It’s no coincidence that for the second consecutive year, the Global Semiconductor Alliance named Broadcom as the best financially managed semiconductor company. Our product-first approach, innovation leadership and execution together help us create shareholder value. Every day we connect a myriad of technologies, impacting everything from smartphones to digital homes to data centers. In fact, as Charlie said, during the COVID lockdown, when so many people were forced to work from home, 99% of their data passed through at least one Broadcom chip. What other company can make that claim?

On the flipside of our innovation mindset, we partner with the world’s most successful companies, including hyperscalers, telcos and automotive OEMs, to deliver solutions for tomorrow. Broadcom combines global scale, engineering depth, a broad intellectual property and product portfolio, superior execution and operational focus to deliver category-leading solutions so our customers can build and grow successful businesses in a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world.

Forging Strong Customer Relationships  

Broadcom’s success is tightly tethered to its ability to understand customer challenges. That helps us keep an ear to the ground to flag potential issues and anticipate needs. It also helps inform Broadcom’s approach to innovation and where to invest. But then, staying connected is also not enough. It's critical to solve customer problems by delivering innovative solutions before anyone else. “This is something that I live every single day,” Charlie commented, adding that “staying close to our customers is critical to [Broadcom’s] success.” Our products connect people, homes, production processes, and businesses. They enable service providers, data centers and the cloud to quickly move and store huge volumes of data needed for everyday applications like email, social media, eCommerce, cloud storage, banking, video on demand, and gaming services. 

Broadcom products have been designed and optimized for end-to-end integration and deliver the best-possible performance. That’s Connected by Broadcom.

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About the Author

Vijay Nagarajan

Vice President, Wireless Connectivity Division, Broadcom

Vijay is currently running global wireless connectivity product efforts at Broadcom Inc., and evangelizing semiconductor solutions and innovation, through Connected by Broadcom, a video series featuring peers and guests from the technology world.

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