Since Intel is celebrating 50th anniversary in November, I thought that I would dedicate the next few 50 over 50 columns to Intel for this month. This column is not about just one person but The Women of Intel who I learnt from (and yes! All of them over 50 and still going at full swing J) and who gave me great company.
When I joined Intel, the person I was in awe of was Carlene Ellis. In a male dominated industry, she was one of the first women Vice Presidents in a Fortune 500 tech company. I heard her at an Intel gathering and what she said stuck to me for the rest of my life. She said that “career, marriage and Children” – you can get only two of the three right, at best. She suggested to all the women not kill themselves to be perfect in all three. At the beginning of my career, that was a great message. It is so true that women want to do it all and end up taking on too much even before someone asks them.
For most of my career at Intel, I was in meetings and gatherings where I would be the only woman and I never felt odd about it. I always spoke my mind because that’s what I saw all the women do. There were some amazingly smart women at Intel. I developed a great bond with a few women at Intel that lasted long after my departure from Intel.
My “sole sisters” at Intel Oregon with whom I ran the Hood to Coast race covering the distance in a relay race over the two days was possible only because Cindy Martinez was a task master and had a schedule that we had to follow to train. Once I moved to California, I met Kathy Wood who gave me the only acting role I ever had on camera for the Intel orientation film (thanks to her, I had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon as part of the shoot). Then, there was Karen Alter, who came to Intel with zero technology background and became an asset to Intel and was among the few Women VPs at Intel, Ellen Konar who set up brand research at Intel and went on to become the first woman Intel Fellow, Deborah Conrad who came to Intel right after college and became the chief of marketing, Renee James, my girl friend from Portland who became the President of Intel, Alison Richards who sure was an Indian in her previous birth, Anne Lewnes, who was the cool one to all us nerdy types, who played a huge role in building brand Intel in the ad world, Annie Lung the queen of tech demos, who never lost her nerve even under the glare of high profile presentations, Jackie Young who beat everyone into shape to pull off a perfect tradeshow booth, Marta Hasler who was a perfect combination of beauty, brains and efficiency and then our external partners Gail Rice, Jane Dauber, Paula who worked on countless events with me – all these women were my sanity, my pals.
I realized the importance of having a group of girl friends who would just know what you are going through without even talking about it, who would be silly with you or serious based on the situation. We were young in our careers, literally growing up together. I went to the bat mitzvah of both of Ellen’s daughters and now Ellen is a doting grand mother; I was there when Karen got pregnant with Sophie and decided to take time off to raise her. Karen was my inspiration to have a child as late as I did. After being at Intel for 12 years, when I decided to leave, it was Sandra Duncan who made a fuss about it saying that Intel can not afford to lose someone like me.
Every month, a subset of us went out, discussing our jobs, our fears, our relationships (or lack there of J) and we helped each other just by being there.
Thirty years ago, we were each a minority in our lines of work. We found the sisterhood that let us laugh off the obstacles and move on. When one slipped, the other pulled her up and we all took turns being vulnerable, lost and yet strong. I remember Ellen telling us the story of what made her leave her previous employer. At that company, when she was 9 months pregnant, she had a very important client meeting. At the end of the meeting, her woman boss called her aside to reprimand her for wearing the wrong shoes that did not go with the dress. Ellen said that she muttered to herself that at that point she could not even see her feet let alone pay attention to the color of the matching shoes. However infuriating situation that situation was, we laughed uncontrollably and agreed that it was a good thing to have happened, which led Ellen to leave that job and join us at Intel. When Andy passed away, a few of us got together reminiscing, trading stories about Andy. Even now, we all visit one another or keep in touch by mail or on social media. One can take themselves out of Intel but one can never take Intel out of them. So, here is a salute to my sisterhood at Intel.