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Female CEO could be next for Intel

Posted: 29 Nov 2012  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:retirement  succession plan  PC business  chip maker 

Three years shy of the mandated retirement age at Intel, Paul Otellini announced his early retirement amid aggressive efforts by the company to restore its lead in the technology sector. The rapid uptake of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has quickly encroached on the territory of Intel's bread and butter, the personal computers. (See Intel announces CEO retirement.)

Otellini's surprise announcement was followed by a rush of theories and predictions as to whom Intel would pick as its next chief executive. (See Predictions abound as to who lands Intel's CEO title.) What's interesting to note is two of the most commonly mentioned candidates to replace Otellini are women: Renée James, head of Intel's software business, and Diane Bryant, head of its data centre and server business.

While still unlikely, the odds that a woman could be named CEO at Intel are much higher now than just a few years ago. This year's Fortune 500 listed 18 companies led by female CEOs, a record number and up from 12 in 2011. In the tech industry—where women are seriously under-represented—the last three years have seen females rise to the top spots at several major technology companies.

Ursula Burns was named CEO of Xerox Corp. in 2009 and became chairman in 2010. Although not new to the chief executive position, former eBay CEO and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman became president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard in September 2011. At the beginning of 2012, Virginia M. "Ginni" Rometty was appointed president and CEO of IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). Just recently, on Oct. 1, she added the title of chairman of the board. Then there's Marissa Mayer, who jumped ship from Google and was named CEO and president of Yahoo! in July 2012.

That's an impressive list, but notice that none are semiconductor companies. The chip business has always seemed even more male-dominated than other parts of the tech industry. I don't recall many female executives or even chip designers at semiconductor companies, much less CEOs. Intel has had five CEOs in its 44-year history, and all of them have been men.


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