Paul Otellini knows a thing or two about making unorthodox career
moves. In 2005, he became the first non-engineer named to the top post
at Santa Clara-based Intel, the world's leading manufacturer of
microprocessors for personal and business computing. His wide-ranging
background at Intel contributed to his professional rise.
today’s MBA graduates should seek jobs at organizations that encourage
them to stretch out of their comfort zone and take on a variety of
roles. That was some of the advice dispensed by Otellini, chief
executive officer of the computer chip maker, during his View from the
Top speech to Business School students on Nov. 7, organized by the
School’s Center for Leadership Development and Research.
an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA, San Francisco native
Otellini passed up jobs at Fairchild Semiconductor and Advanced Micro
Devices to join Intel’s finance department in 1974. Rather than aspire
to be chief financial officer as many expected, he instead sought out a
series of lateral jobs, taking similar-level posts in many different
Intel departments including field operations, marketing, product
development, and global sales.
“That was done deliberately. All those other jobs molded me along the way,” he said.
ended up in charge of Intel’s then-nascent business with IBM, right
about the time the technology giant decided to install Intel products
into its first personal computers. The move made Intel’s business boom
while Otellini’s career rose. “Lesson number one?” Otellini said.
His second lesson: When looking for new
products, be sure to analyze data and trends, but also trust your
intuition. That lesson played out in 2000 at time when Otellini said
popularity of the desktop computer “was running out of steam.”
reckoned that sales of laptop computers could take off if the devices
contained an appealing but new feature—Wi-Fi, the wireless technology
that is now used widely in personal computers and other electronic
devices, including home networks, mobile phones, and video games. In
the seven years since Intel began selling the new technology to
computer makers, Otellini said the company has generated about $80
billion in revenue.
“Part of the second lesson was that you
have to follow your gut, sometimes not listen to the best advisors, and
decide where you think the markets are going,” Otellini said.
Continuing to look ahead for new uses for technology remains an important part of product development at the company.
early November, Intel announced a new e-health line of systems—software
and services designed for patients and health care providers. Their
newest personal computer is customized to monitor vital signs and
deliver health care information to elderly patients who are managing
chronic health conditions at home. Intel provides the software needed
to run both the new device and the computers used by health care
professionals to track and communicate with patients.
future, Intel will look for more business in consumer markets in
developing nations containing huge populations that are eager for
is already the second-largest market for computers in the world, and it
will pass the U.S. in the next couple of years,” Otellini predicts. But
Intel’s future growth could also be found in Africa, where more cell
phones are expected to be sold this year than in India, he said. “So,
we are betting on that curve accelerating” as people in developing
nations buy handheld devices and less expensive laptops that contain
the computer chips produced by Intel.
Otellini received a
bachelor's degree in economics from the University of San Francisco in
1972, and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974,
the same year he joined Intel. In 2005, he became Intel’s fifth CEO.
Previously, he’d served as Intel's president and chief operating
officer, and in 2002 he was elected to Intel's board of directors.