Diane Bryant is the CIO at Intel where her career has spanned over 20 years. Diane joined Intel fresh out of U.C. Davis in 1985, after having received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Diane holds four U.S. patents, and some of her many contributions at Intel include her involvement in the development of Mobile PCs back in the early 90s. We were fortunate to have Diane take a break from her busy schedule to talk to us.
What is a typical day like for you at Intel?
50% of my day is spent managing Intel’s IT Organization of 5,700 employees worldwide. Intel’s IT organization is responsible for providing support for server storage, computers, smartphones and networks. The other 25% of my day is spent partnering with the business units, like the microprocessor group, and the remaining 25% of my day is spent collaborating with other CIOs of global 500 companies. For example, on a daily basis I talk to CIOs from companies like Cisco, IBM, and Kraft about what Intel is doing, what these companies are doing, and what they’re interested in learning from Intel. There is a lot of interest now in consumerization, cloud computing, and we collaborate with these companies on topics like these.
You graduated with an Engineering degree in 1985 and started working at Intel right out of school. What was it like being a female engineer back then, in what I assume must have been a male dominated field?
I was in the minority when I graduated from U.C. Davis. But I was used to being in the a minority at school, so it wasn’t difficult to adjust at Intel. At that time, 18% of engineers were women. In contrast to 2008, women actually made up 15% of engineers. But, even though the percentage of women in the engineering field is even less today, the environment has matured and is now more supportive and professional to women than it was 20 years ago.
Your career at Intel spans over 20 years, which means that you’ve witnessed a staggering amount of growth and change at Intel and in this industry. What technological advancement has impressed you the most?
When I joined Intel in 1985, the Personal Computer had just been launched. Using a computer as a personal device was a new concept. At that time, the internet was a very exclusive capability, and was something just used by the government, universities and labs. In contrast to today, there are 1.6 billion people on the internet. So there has been a dramatic change in 25 years. To address your other question, what I thought was the most impressive technological advancement, is mobility. The whole notion of being able to take your device and being mobile was new. I was apart of the mobility initiative in 1988 that involved the leading PC makers at the time – Zenith and Compaq. We worked on power consumption, standby and suspend modes, and overall weight. This is when mobile computing became a reality. And in 91/92, the first mobile computer solution was launched.
There is no question that in the past few decades, more young women have been following career paths in science and engineering. How do you think women’s roles in technology will change over the next 20 years?
The number of women contributing to technology and computing is definitely growing (except in engineering). Technology has become less of a fringe industry, and instead it has become mainstream just like the retail or oil industries. As a result, more women are joining the industry. Also, as technology has become more pervasive in our lives, technology has become more focused on the end user instead of technology for technology’s sake, and that has driven more women in to the industry too. Men tend to be more interested in technology for technology’s sake, while women tend to be more interested in the value of technology to help people solve a problem. In recent years, Intel has shifted to this new direction of thinking as well. Now it’s about understanding people’s unique needs for technology and their demands.
You hold 4 U.S. patents, what are they for?
I received them while I was apart of the mobile group at Intel. The patents involve shrinking devices, fitting more in to a single piece of silicon, reducing power, and how the transistors understand what is connected and what is not enabled. For example, the laptop needs to be aware of when it is plugged in, and when it’s running on batteries.
What is the one gadget you can’t live without?
The gadget I couldn’t live without is my BlackBerry Pearl. Yes, it’s kind of an old model, but I tend to like to hold on to technology that works for me. I’ve also been a BlackBerry user for about 5 years.
Mac or PC?
We are a non-denominational household, so we have both Mac and PCs at home. Personally I use a PC since at Intel we are heavily into using Microsoft Office, so for ultimate productivity mostly I stick with a PC. But at Intel, employees do have the option to use Macs. For now, I’m sticking with a PC.
What is your idea of the perfect vacation? Would that include being cut off from cell phones and the internet?
Any vacation where my kids are happy, is a perfect vacation for me. My most recent vacations were Disney Land and white water rafting, which obviously my kids chose (they are 10 and 13). I don’t do work on vacation, since I have to keep up with them. But I do need to stay connected, even on vacation. I need to have my BlackBerry and laptop with me so that I can use it to research schedules, locations, etc. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine going on vacation without having it to get around.
What blogs do you read?
I read many of the blogs at Intel. It helps me to keep updated about what is going on internally at Intel, and it’s a great way to communicate with other members of my team. Unfortunately, I don’t read any external blogs, I just don’t have the time between work and my kids, but I maybe I should start making some time to start reading more blogs.