TIers do amazing things every day at work and when they are out of the office. In our ongoing series, ‘Out of Office,’ we showcase the unique and fascinating hobbies, talents and interests of TIers all over the world.
Paul Westbrook is a poster child for the Mozart Effect.
“There are a lot of interesting studies about math skills and music skills going hand-in-hand,” Paul said. “If your brain is wired so that you’re particularly good at math, then learning music can come much more easily and naturally. There’s a cluster of people who are really good in both.”
Paul is one of those people.
He grew up in New Orleans – the epicenter of jazz culture. He excelled at math and science and played saxophone in school bands. He was also fast enough that a high school coach tried unsuccessfully to recruit him for the track team, which would have meant quitting the band.
Those passions – or variations on those themes – have played important roles throughout Paul’s life and career. He’s the long-time president and lead alto-sax in the TI Jazz Band, a record-holding sprinter and captain of our corporate track team, and – in a riff on his love for math and science – a champion of efforts to incorporate environmentally friendly designs into our facilities around the world.
“Paul makes the Energizer Bunny look dormant,” said Harold Davis, a memory design engineer and third-chair trombone in the Jazz Band. “He’s an incredible leader, organizer and go-getter. I don’t know where he gets the energy.”
The TI Jazz Band has played some iconic gigs – at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, in New Orleans, at the Cancun Jazz Festival and at the Morton H. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas. But one of Paul’s favorite venues for the big band has been for a small audience during lunch at a middle-school band camp.
“Every time we would do this, 10 or 15 students would gravitate toward the front table,” he said. “All the other kids were yakking and playing, but these kids were looking and listening. They were locked in. We’d encourage them to come up and talk to us and look at the music. I think a lot of those kids auditioned for the big band when they got to high school.”
Whether with middle-school musicians or government officials around the world, he loves to share the passions of his life.
“Paul is the ultimate Renaissance man,” said Lara Hussain, director of sustainability stakeholder relations. “He’s a big thinker and a big doer. He expands horizons wherever he is or whoever he’s working with. Getting others excited about things you’re interested in is a pretty cool skill.”
The arc of life
One day during his senior year in high school, as he struggled with decisions about where to attend college and whether to study music or something else, Paul’s mother gave him some advice that changed the arc of his life.
“She told me, ‘You could be a very good band director, but you’re really good in math and science. Have you thought about engineering? I didn’t know anybody who was an engineer, but that’s what I did. I became a mechanical engineer.”
He graduated from Louisiana State University in December 1982 and – with unemployment at almost 11 percent – felt fortunate to land a job in our facilities group the following month. Over the years, he helped design clean-rooms, managed large buildings and oversaw major technical conversions in wafer fabs.
At the same time, Paul’s interest in sustainable building design, which began during college, continued to grow. In the mid-1990s, he and his wife bought a couple of wooded acres in what at the time was a rural suburb north of Dallas. They designed and built a passive-active solar home that has been featured on solar-home tours and in numerous articles and television shows. Their property features many native trees, plants, grasses and wildflowers. Because of the home’s design and solar panels that capture the sun’s energy, his monthly electric bill is less than $40.
Paul also began researching and advocating for green building design at our facilities.
So when we decided to build RFAB as the world’s first green wafer fab, he was a logical choice to help lead the effort. As our first sustainable development manager, he provided direction as we rethought our approach to the cost, energy and environmental aspects of wafer fab design. In 2008 – four years after we began this ambitious journey – RFAB earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. In addition to the fab itself, RFAB’s office building also achieved Gold certification.
Since then, the LEED Green Building Rating System has become a central tenet in our green building strategy, and Paul has helped lead the way. We incorporate these principles in all new building construction. In addition, we use the system as a template to guide our operational activities in existing buildings.
Paul’s leadership in sustainable design now extends far beyond our walls.
His list of accomplishments ranges from local to international and from academia to government. For example, he worked with his hometown, Fairview, on plans for parks, trails, green-building initiatives and energy efficiency. He also was named one of 20 senior fellows for the U.S. State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas program in 2011. Over the next two years, he helped governments, businesses and educational institutions in Honduras, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia with their energy, water and resource-efficiency programs.
Paul has also worked closely with Southern Methodist University, the University of Illinois and Texas State University. The North Texas Municipal Water District gave him its Water Genius Award in 2009.
“Paul is recognized nationally and internationally as a sustainability brain,” Lara said. “He’s known at a government level, at an academic level and at other companies as a go-to person for all things related to environmental efficiency and improved building performance. He understands sustainability as a whole.”
But Paul’s love for sharing his passions can also get very personal.
“I have a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler,” Lara said. “When he was born, Paul sent us an illustrated book about Charlie Parker, a renowned saxophone player. I started reading this book with my son and we would listen to Charlie Parker’s music. It got to the point that my son could identify his music from among other musicians, and now he dances every time jazz comes on the radio. It always makes me think of Paul because he was so thoughtful.”
In the following Q&A called “Development Board,” Paul answers questions about his growth and development at TI.
What is the most impactful piece of feedback you got at TI?
I don’t think I can point to anything that anyone told me. The most impactful learning came from observing good managers and engineers and trying to emulate some of their behaviors and processes.
Development takes many forms. Looking back, what opportunities have helped you grow and develop the most at TI?
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have several managers who believed in me and assigned me to good projects or roles. And I’ve always benefited from having a great group of co-workers. Getting the opportunity to work on the sustainability and resource efficiency features for the RFAB design was definitely the most rewarding opportunity and it helped define the most recent decade of my career at TI.
What was the most difficult stretch assignment you’ve received at TI, and how did it help you in your career?
The most difficult project I worked on was the DMOS4 (now DMOS5 North) DiamTech project. We converted the fab from 150mm to 200mm without impacting production. I was the facilities project manager and had the absolute best team of facilities engineers, which was good because we had never done a project that complex before. I embraced the concept of servant leadership during that project – get great people on the team and support them so they would be successful. Their success defines mine. After that complex project, everything else seemed much easier in comparison.
What career advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
Enjoy your youth – it’s fleeting! On a more serious note, I should have taken time to talk with experienced engineers and managers for advice and ideas on roles and career development. It’s easy to get focused on tasks and projects and not take the time to look up and ahead.
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