[News] Unexpected Retirement Announcement ‘Mark’ed! Challenges Ahead for TSMC After Mark Liu Steps Down as Chairman

2023-12-20 Semiconductors editor

TSMC announced yesterday that Chairman Mark Liu will retire after the shareholders’ meeting in June 2024, and it is possible that CEO C.C. Wei will succeed him as chairman, according to TechNews.

While the news shocked the industry, insiders see it as somewhat expected. As early as March this year, the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA) elected its 14th board of directors and appointed a new chairman, with TSMC’s Senior Vice President Dr. Cliff Hou taking over the position previously held by Mark Liu, who had served two terms as chairman of TSIA. This move was seen as a possible precursor to Mark Liu’s retirement and succession planning.

Apart from being close to 70 years old, Mark Liu’s retirement is rumored to be related to issues with TSMC’s progress in the United States. TSMC’s Arizona plant previously faced a shortage of skilled equipment installation workers, prompting TSMC to consider sending 500 Taiwanese technicians to assist.

However, locals interpreted this move as an attempt to introduce low-cost labor and compete for local jobs, leading to a standoff between TSMC and the local labor union.

On the other hand, while progress in TSMC’s Japanese factory is relatively smooth, there are reports indicating significant differences between TSMC’s management style and the customary Japanese approach, prompting locals to express discomfort, stating “not accustomed.”

Therefore, how TSMC continues to operate its overseas facilities after Mark Liu’s retirement next year poses a significant challenge.

Industry sources believe that TSMC’s biggest challenge lies in “culture.” Whether operating in the United States or Japan, it requires understanding and operating from the standpoint and perspective of the other party’s culture for smooth cultural integration.

It’s not surprising that Mark Liu mentioned the challenges of setting up plant in the United States, stating that Taiwan cannot only manage Taiwanese people; we must be able to manage people from around the world.

Additionally, international management requires an understanding of local culture, including language and management. In the future, TSMC will need to learn how to manage young talent, explaining “why” rather than following the traditional Taiwanese manufacturing approach of “you do what you are told.”

Mark Liu also mentioned before that TSMC is currently in the early stages of learning. The primary goal is to effectively manage factories, cultivate management team, and “every place has its way of doing things, which is what our management team needs to face.”

However, with TSMC facing the imminent retirement of Mark Liu and the sole leadership transition to C.C.Wei, how he will lead TSMC in effectively managing a global workforce will be the key focus in the industry.

(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from TechNews