Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Intel & Symantec CEO talk

One positive thing about studying in a school like Berkeley is that big-shot CEOs will just occasionally drop by. Just a few weeks back I went to one with Adobe CEO, Bruce Chizen, where he talked about the new Apollo project, FLEX and the acquisition of Macromedia. Last week, I went to another one with Marcel; this time hosted by the PBS program called "CEO Exchange", which have Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, and Symantec CEO, John Thomson, moderated by CNN's Jeff Greenfield.

There were a few interesting things that I learned:

1. Since this is a televised program, we were made to "laugh" and "appear engaged" so that they can use the footage for later on. One of the cameraman even asked me if I could remove my cap so it'd look better on TV. Then there were these "pre-assigned" questions which selected "audience members" got to ask. They allowed a few other questions from the floor towards the end, but all these "staged attempts" make me very interested to find out about how all these would look eventually in the real program when it aired.

2. Jeff Greenfield was a great moderator, and not surprisingly so given his credential. Obviously, the ability to keep the audience engaged and the interviewee focused, always asking the questions which the audience themselves wanna ask; these are skills that are obviously the fruit of his many years of experience working in the press. And I wonder if the new wave of blog-based citizen-journalism will be able to provide the depth and breadth of learning experience to produce more reporters of similar caliber.

3. I bet John Thomson, being an African American, is always being asked questions related to his ethnicity. No exception today. My impression of him is that he's a very confident and articulate, and I really like the face that he makes an effort to "unwind" once in a while (hunting, fishing in Alaska) and he doesn't carry any mobile devices with him. When asked "wouldn't you worry about the company", he replied "my job as a leader is to build a team that is able to keep the company going strong. If I can't even leave my job for a few hours, i know i haven't done my job as the leader of the company"

4. Paul Otellini came across as a soft-spoken person initially, but he might be a hard boss to work with. When asked "when was the last time you get pissed at work?", he answered "this morning". He went on to say that he was initially put off by a suggestion from a subordinate, but he eventually email back saying that he now thinks there's something to that suggestion. He also bought on stage a couple of devices to showcase what next-generation Intel chips can do. I'm particularly interested in their efforts in the Intel Health department, as well as their "Viiv" initiative which aims to make the connection between TV and the PC much more easy than it is today.

All in all, it was an interesting talk, and at some point inspiring. I've always leaned more towards the gungho lets-do-it-ourselves entrepreneurial kind of approach, so it's kinda refreshing to see that you can get a pretty rewarding experience as well doing this "corporate" thing.

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