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Being Extraordinary by Being Authentic — Joannie Fu’s Career Journey

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Joannie Fu, chief of staff in the Custom Logic Engineering Group joined Intel 20 years ago. She was first attracted to Intel when she saw the company’s allyship to the LGBTQ community. Now, she’s an active member of Intel Out & Ally Leadership Council, a sponsor and mentor of a chapter of the Intel LGBT+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), contributor and speaker to Intel Women’s Network, and a mentor in the Asian Leadership Program. We spoke with Joannie about the profound influence of mentors and ERGs on her career, and how she’s impacting others by being a mentor herself.



What’s your current role, and what has your career path looked like?
My current role as the chief of staff gives me the opportunity, as a trusted advisor and consultant, to partner with our engineering executives and set strategic directions, drive executive communications, and oversee operations.

I would characterize my career path as broad and diverse. I have been with Intel for more than 20 years, and have worked at 4 different fabrication plants, 6 divisions, 5 campuses, and 4 years of international expatriate assignment in Asia, with functions ranging from supply chain, product development, factory start up, NPI launch, information technology, to manufacturing engineering, and launching 18 products. All these roles gave me unique perspectives and sharpened my skill sets, enabling me to continue to grow in my career.


Earlier in your career, did you have a mentor? If so, what did you learn from them?
Absolutely - I am grateful for my board of advisors. Many of their lessons continue to influence me even today when I am making decisions.

When I joined Intel, I came out of the closet and told my manager that I don’t want to be treated differently – just see me as a normal person. He said, “Joannie, why be ordinary, when you can be extraordinary?” He encouraged me to be the best I can be with authenticity. This has been how I manage my career and live my life and became my mantra: always be extraordinary.


How does mentoring help those struggling with bringing their whole selves to work?
Mentoring helps us overcome anxiety and fears by offering different perspectives, breaking down thought distortions and incorrect perceptions, and leveraging our unique talents as our authentic best self in everything that we do. I believe mentoring helps maximize our best selves in everything we do.


How did you first get involved with Intel’s LGBT+ ERG?
I got involved in it as soon as I joined Intel. When I was considering my career post graduate school, Intel stood out because the website highlighted its LGBT+ ERG, which no other company had at the time. I emailed the leader, and she was extremely open and helpful in giving me advice (and later became my mentor as well). So I accepted Intel’s offer and when I joined, I joined the ERG.


How are Intel’s ERGs reflective of the overall culture at Intel?
Intel’s diverse ERGs are a web of different cultures, religions, identities, and interests, and are open to everyone. I have joined many events hosted by different ERGs and felt welcome and engaged, even when it is not ERGs that I am directly associated with. Intel ERGs reflect the Intel cultural values of Inclusion, Truth and Transparency, One Intel, and Fearlessness in showing up to work with our heart and soul.


As a member of the LGBTQ community, woman of color, a mother, and a first-generation immigrant, what are some of the ways that Intel supports you in bringing your whole self to work?
Intel is one of the few pioneering companies to offer tax-free Domestic Partner Benefits to all employees, including a health insurance package, adoption assistance, bonding leave, fertility assistance, and more. Back in the 1990s, this enabled me to be open about my life at work, as I was offered the same benefits as everyone else. Recently, Intel also set representation and pay parity goals that level the playing field for different folks to get the visibility needed to beat unconscious bias.

On the more personal side, I was offered an expatriate assignment to start Intel's first factory in Dalian, China, which I knew I couldn't pass up. But same-sex marriage was and still is illegal in China. My domestic partner and I had just welcomed our first child, and I was adamant that I would not go to China without them. It's one thing for a company to claim equal protection for LGBT+ individuals under official policies and another to truly ensure they have access to the same rights, benefits, projects, and opportunities as other employees. Intel HR, the legal team, PR, and the management team surprised me by providing the necessary resources to avoid separating our family, from coordinating with the government, to helping my partner secure a visa, to ensuring our safety while abroad.

All of this makes it easy for me to bring my whole self to work without any reservation.


Why do you think Intel has been so successful regarding inclusion in the workplace?
Intel is an engineering company — we solve complex problems. In 2013 when our executives set the goal for hitting representation and parity goals, it seemed impossible; however, we did by tracking, measuring, and energizing the employee base to attract the most diverse and innovative talent. At the same, we have been going through a cultural transformation to be even more open and have offered many trainings on inclusive leadership practices. As a trainer, I have seen many a-ha moments when folks recognize the bias that they have, then take actions to correct them. We are not perfect and still have a long way to go. The Black Lives Matter movement showed that we must do more — but I am proud of the progress that Intel has made and will continue to drive through our 2030 RISE Goals.


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This piece was excerpted from the original article written in partnership with Fairygodboss.
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