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The wafer stage of an early ASML lithography machine.

3-minute read

Three leaders in ASML history who made a difference

By Sander Hofman, June 27, 2016

It’s not easy to navigate the stormy weather of the semiconductor industry at the helm of a small company. Some of ASML’s early leaders stepped up to the plate, each in their own way, and laid the groundwork for our company culture as we know it today.

Steef Wittekoek

The scientist who pioneered open innovation

Working on the early wafer steppers in Philips Research, Steef had the perfect credentials to join ASML as its first chief scientist back in 1984. He led the team that turned the clunky, hydraulic PAS 2000 into the PAS 2500, a productive and accurate system that turned heads in the industry. Crucially, Wittekoek developed the alignment system, ensuring the optical projection would result in accurate imaging. He also pioneered ASML’s partnership with Zeiss. This relationship became a blueprint for our later open innovation philosophy, in which we co-develop high-tech knowledge in a network of customers, suppliers, universities, and research institutes. Dr. Wittekoek retired in 1998.

ASML's first chief scientist Steef Wittekoek.

Willem Maris

The chief executive who fostered pride and success

After rising steadily in its managerial ranks, Philips approached Willem Maris to become ASML’s CEO in 1990. Maris' first assignment was to keep ASML afloat during the downturn of the early ’90s. Having been a professional tennis player in his younger years, he knew that the right mindset could win a match. And so, within a couple of years and against all odds, ASML would sign several big customers such as Intel and IBM. This laid the groundwork for later success. But above all, Maris was known for his leadership style. He would often do rounds in the factory and the office, talking to every employee. He embodied a culture of openness, customer focus and commitment to get the job done together. Without a doubt, this resonates in ASML today. Willem Maris retired as CEO in 1999. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 71.

ASML's former CEO Willem Maris

Henk Bodt

The evangelist who never stopped believing

As a member of Philips’ board in the early 1990s, Henk Bodt was responsible for the struggling venture ASML while finding himself smack in the middle of Philips’ infamous Operation Centurion. So when ASML requested a financial lifeline of 30 million guilders, Henk Bodt expected his colleagues in the board to deny the request. However, he managed to convince Philips CEO Jan Timmer to make one final investment in ASML. The investment helped finalize the PAS 5500, which became a wildly successful product and launched ASML to the top of the industry. Henk Bodt later became a supervisory board member at ASML, before retiring in 2007.

ASML's former supervisory board chairman Henk Bodt.

About the author

  • Sander Hofman
  • Corporate communications manager
  • Sander loves to bring technology, stories and media together on ASML’s digital channels. He’s a communications dude by day, an aspiring screenwriter by night, and a geek by sheer luck.