Julie Silk

Environmental compliance program manager

Keysight Technologies

1400 Fountaingrove Parkway, Santa Rosa 95403



Notable quote: “I lead a global team, a top-notch engineering team in Santa Rosa plus an experienced manufacturing team in Asia that has significantly improved the reliability of one of our products through the redesign of several parts and processes.”

Professional background: After a brief time as an engineer at an oil refinery, I joined Hewlett-Packard in Santa Rosa. During the changes from HP to Agilent Technologies to Keysight Technologies, I have worked as an engineer solving problems in various areas: plating, soldering, manufacturability, commodity sourcing and development, business systems, and reliability.

I am now a program manager, leading our global companywide implementation of the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive plus managing our material reliability program and consortia engagements.

“These two topics are entwined due to the new materials required by the higher melting point of lead-free solder,” the company wrote about her.

“With the move to new lead-free soldering and subsequent requirement for new laminates and surface finishes, Julie was in a good position to evaluate new materials, drive design rules and ensure the many test and measurement products maintained or improved reliability. Julie was then asked to also take on the overall program management of the RoHS transition.

“The disparity between her current responsibilities and her formal education is not surprising to many who enter the workplace and find their interests migrating with new challenges presented by ever-changing needs of the business. She contributes to internal and industry-consortia projects and has published several papers on both RoHS and reliability topics.”

Education: Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from University of Washington

Tell us about yourself and your company: In high technology, the key to success is delivering what’s next — first. We are Keysight Technologies, a brand new company with over 75 years of electronic-test-and-measurement success under our belts. Founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and David Packard as Hewlett-Packard, our expertise continued as Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurement Group.

Today, Keysight is 100 percent focused on helping companies tackle the toughest electronic design, test and measurement challenges through a combination of trusted hardware, innovative software and our own global team of industry experts. The result? Insights that lead to innovation. From home entertainment to network reliability to communicating wirelessly, Keysight provides the measurement capabilities that make our world more productive and a safer place to live.

Any community involvement?

I have had a passion for encouraging girls to pursue engineering and other STEM careers for many years. Coming from a small farming and logging town with no engineering role models, in high school I attended a Women in Engineering conference that was several hours away. This was the spark that I needed to see my future path. I was inspired to use my strengths in math and science to solve problems.

To provide a similar experience for other girls, I participate in several activities. I am a founding member of Expanding Your Horizons Sonoma County, which just held our 25th annual event. I helped start and continue to participate in Keysight’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. I have also done career exploration activities in local classrooms and foster homes.

I am a member of the Society of Women Engineers and was in Leadership Santa Rosa’s 29th class.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Julie Silk

Environmental compliance program manager

Keysight Technologies

1400 Fountaingrove Parkway, Santa Rosa 95403



Making connections between people who need to know something and the people who know it is a great source of satisfaction. I am most proud of the annual Expanding Your Horizons event that our small nonprofit of volunteers has held consistently for 25 years.

This event encourages girls to pursue science and technology careers through hands-on workshops led by women in a variety of fields. We have navigated through ups, downs, barriers, challenges and tremendous support to touch the lives of around 4,000 girls.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Balancing the demands of working in a global organization with personal and family health is my biggest challenge. While our parenting goal was to nurture our children to independence, and we have been largely successful, the temptation as our children leave the nest is to spend even more time and mental energy at work. Setting limits and making myself available to family and my own needs can be challenging.

Words that best describe you: Persistent.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

It is very easy to be underestimated or ignored in a conversation or meeting. On the other hand, the same level of assertion or engagement exhibited by a man can be considered pushy coming from a woman.

Once I realized that my input could drive a conversation or project in a better direction, I accepted the “pushy” label. I speak up in meetings, ask questions at conferences, seek out people to learn from. I find that offering to help someone, make a connection or get information for them can “pay it forward” so that I then have a network of people who are willing to help me when I need to get information.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Data generation and analysis will be more and more critical, with new tools needed to deal with the volume of information. Being able to then distill the information to meaningful and valid communication is a skill that will be more and more important.

Who was your most important mentor?

Pat Kempker was a colleague, manager, and mentor over many of my years here. I worked with her in my first internship, then replaced her in a few of her roles as she moved on. Her advice about the perception of competence being as important as reality drove me to be a more focused and professional person at work.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

Act as if you belong and are competent, even if you doubt yourself in a situation. Sit at the table, speak up, make offers, be a contributing and valuable member of the team. Your actions and contributions will be recognized — and don’t hesitate to acknowledge and highlight these.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Bill and Melinda Gates. Using their extreme wealth to do real good in the world is admirable. They have goals to solve problems that ignore political boundaries.

Typical day at the office: With my manager in Scotland and my primary project on European Union regulations, I usually start my day by logging in from home for either our regular meeting and to see if there are urgent issues to resolve.

I then head into the office to meet with the local engineering team to analyze data, determine experiments or review engineering analysis to improve reliability of a product. I then talk to people for information or to answer questions, pull together information for the consumption of others, or develop material that will drive progress toward goals.

In the evening, when employees in Asia come into the office, I host meetings to review information, make decisions and give direction.

Best place to work outside of your office: One advantage of the global nature of most of my work is that I can do it from our cabin in Tahoe.

Current reading: I read mysteries and light books to counteract my data-heavy work life. My book group is an important part of my social life, and we read most of the usual book-club fare. But never self-improvement books: We’re great as we are!

Most want to meet: Sheryl Sandberg. Her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” was an inspiration. I look forward to reading her current book.

Social media you most use: I use LinkedIn to stay in touch with other professionals. I rarely use Facebook, and I don’t use anything else.

Stress-relievers: Simple things like walking my dog, gardening and talking with my husband at the end of the day.

Favorite hobbies: I race my sporty MiniCooper in autocross and kayak on Lake Tahoe.

Is there something to add?

I’m married to Ken, also a Keysight engineer. Our sharing of home responsibilities — he not only loads the dishwasher but also recognizes when the detergent is low and buys more — and the parenting mantra of “striving for independence” has allowed each to pursue their passions while leading challenging careers and raising two wonderful almost-adults.