CEO Talk: Oliver Maiwald, Sencio B.V

This interview was held with Mr. Oliver Maiwald, CEO of Sencio B.V.


Tell me a bit about your background? How did you first get started with Sencio?


I have had a fairly circuitous route to the role of CEO. My first step was as an electrical technician working on the central computer of a destroyer in the German Navy. Although it was necessary to leave after a few years to push my boundaries, to this day I still feel strongly connected to my maritime background. And it continues to play a significant role in my life outside of work.


Around 1998, I was involved in co-developing the world’s first DECT module to focus on data communication. Continuing to build on this development took me from Germany across the border into the Netherlands to the National Semiconductors / SiTel facility in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It was here I further built up my skills and experience, with a diverse range of roles from technical support through to product marketing.



Following the successful acquisition and integration of SiTel by Dialog Semiconductor, just like with my role in the Navy I once again started to feel the need to move on to increase my responsibility and take on new challenges. Sencio was looking to bring in fresh ideas and leadership to tackle the challenges they were facing as European specialist IC packaging company. So, when I was offered the position as Sencio’s new CEO in 2014, it was perfect timing.


Tell me about Sencio?


Sencio is an independent package design and assembly company, based on the Novio Tech Campus in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. We are fully IATF 16949 certified and offer customized functional packaging solutions for MEMS and integrated sensor systems, primarily for automotive and industrial applications. We help our customers address their package and assembly needs, from system design to package concept, through development and prototyping to volume manufacturing and assembly of a functional packaging solution. Additionally, we can even manage the component supply chain for their system, saving them time and effort.


Along with full volume production and assembly services, we also offer fast turnaround assembly of a small series of devices. These prototypes can be used for full electrical and functional verification of the first silicon coming out of the wafer fab for example. This is an ideal service for everyone, from start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) right up to recognized large multinationals.


What problem did you see that needed to be fixed? What is your approach to solving that?


As with many companies that are spun-out from a larger supplier, one of the first challenges is to become less reliant on business coming from a narrow customer base. My initial focus at Sencio was therefore to build on the existing customer base and increase profit.


Of course, these things do not happen overnight, they require patience and investment. And as a medium-sized European company, it has been about understanding our niche in the market and how we need to adapt to changing market conditions. But gradually and sustainably we have built on our existing experience while also learning how we could fit our offering to address the needs of new markets.


How was the role/offering of Sencio changed during the recent years?


Since beginning at Sencio I have seen my role change, but that has been as part of a longer- term vision. To start we needed to stabilize the company by building growth through increased production line activities. Now we have that stability it is time to sustainably build on it, by looking at how we can further adapt our offering to meet customers needs.


Did any of the market consolidation (or acquisition) affected your business and how?


As the industry moves to even more integrated solutions, we have seen quite some change in customer requirements. This is leading to consolidation of the market from a slightly different perspective. In the past there was clear differentiation between the different assembly levels for electronics: with chip fabrication, IC assembly, PCB assembly and finally system assembly. Today these demarcation lines are blurring especially with complete System-in-Package (SiP) techniques – where we can now go from chip fabrication to encapsulated system assembly almost in a single step.


Packaging is also no longer just about protecting the sensitive electronics and connections, it increasingly has a functional role. That can range from simply combining electrical and mechanical or structural features into a standard outline SiP right up to a complete freeform shaped plug’n’play module that can be ‘clipped’ into place.


The result of this consolidation is we need offer more than just classic encapsulation and assembly services. We need to support customers with a broader range of skills and capabilities to successfully create complete system solutions. For example, while the basic functionality of the IC and sensor can be tested in the fab, with customized encapsulation and packaging of a complete system you can no longer rely on general testers and handlers. So, we need to help our customers consider how they will encapsulate their functionality and/or introduce it into the package, but also how they will test the end result.


What is a typical customer for Sencio?


Sencio is not one of the big OSAT players that support pure volume assembly. We are a specialist supplier capable of supporting more customized designs and high-quality niche volumes.


For example, our production facilities in Nijmegen can turn out some 3 to 5 million parts per year, which is ideal for customers who require solutions in relatively small volumes in comparison to the large OSAT players. But our customers also appreciate that we can support them through the entire process and as many of them are automotive suppliers we need to offer the highest quality.


Another typical Sencio customer is young companies and start-ups. We have plenty of experience to draw on to help these companies develop a system solution that is suitable for their applications.


What are the 3 top things you wish your customers would do better (or different)?


There is really only one thing I can think of. Customers come to us with many excellent projects but sometimes they may not have fully considered the practical implementation. For example, the concept works under standard conditions, but the practical reality is that it needs to operate in extremely environmentally harsh environments. So often we have to consider the impact practicalities have on the package and assembly, but also the potential stresses that they may have on the encapsulated IC solution.


However, this is another way our experience, including an understanding of industrialization, can help them. So, what I would wish for is for customers to simply talk to us at a much earlier stage in their product development to see if we can address potential challenges before going into the encapsulation and assembly stage.


What is your #1 advice for people who want to work for Sencio?


There is a Bavarian or German saying that essentially translates as ‘you must withstand one’s own thirst’. Or to put it another way be patient! This can be difficult for many people to accept as it goes against the grain of ‘fast-moving’ high-tech companies. It doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of ideas and innovation at Sencio. On the contrary. It’s simply that we are building the company with the goal of sustainable long-term growth rather than ‘quick wins or rapid expansion’.


What is the best moment in your day?


That moment of waking up. Realizing it is the start of a new day. A new day of unknown challenges and opportunities. I believe this reflects my positive attitude on life and how much I look forward to what each day brings, whether work challenges or relaxing pastimes.


How do you spend your time outside working hours?


I pursue several sporting activities to keep energized. But I also like the opportunity to breakaway completely from work. There are two different ways I achieve this, both of which are in many ways linked to my time in the German Navy. I love sailing on the open water and try to either skipper a boat myself or join a racing boat whenever I can, although not as much as I would like! The second is marching. Occasional organized marches are the perfect way to stretch my limbs and, often traversing 40 km or more, there’s plenty of time to catch up with old friends.

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