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CCG Employee Spotlight: Meet Sam Gao

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Authored by Emily Arcuri, Client Computing Group Communications:
Meet Sam Gao. Based in Folsom, California. Intel veteran of 24 years. Intel Client Computing Group (CCG) Vice President and Client Platform Solutions (CPS) General Manager. Husband of Lynn Zhou and father to, Alice and Melody, both college students. Passionate tennis player and endurance running enthusiast – having recently completed the prestigious California International Marathon – which takes place just steps from his home in Folsom!
In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, we sat down with CCG Vice President and Client Platform Solutions (CPS) Group General Manager, Sam Gao to celebrate his heritage and journey.
Sam says, “I grew up in China and Chinese values are deep in my heart – hard working, the emphasis on education, and respect for others. Those are really the values from my heritage that I live by every day.”
He attended the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and took part in the pro-democracy student movement in 1989. After graduating college, Sam came to the U.S. to continue his education in a democratic country. Sam attended Rutgers University – initially with an interest in becoming a physicist. He says, “I also started to get carried away by this little thing called a computer that could do so much!” He ended up getting two master’s degrees: in physics and computer science. A few years later, Sam went on to earn his MBA from the University of Chicago.
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“When I first came to the U.S. I was in awe of the liberties, democracy of process, the freedom of having your own thinking, beliefs, and religions. I was able to learn fast and find my potential by discovering new ways of approaching challenges and thinking differently!”
Shortly after completing his degrees at Rutgers, Sam went on to work for Dialogic, as a software engineer in New Jersey, a company that Intel acquired in 1999. That’s when he met fellow CCG leader Vivek Gupta working on firmware architecture.
He adds, “In the U.S. I was overwhelmed by the openness and the willingness of others to help me succeed. I was very lucky to have such incredible mentors that went out of their way to share opportunities and give me feedback to grow my career. I will never forget my first manager who gave up his role for me. We swapped roles because he saw that I was passionate about management!”
After the Intel Dialogic acquisition, Sam moved to Oregon to work at the Intel Jones Farm location for a few years and later transitioned to the Intel Folsom site to join the graphics effort.
Sam says that he’s a student of history and a lifelong learner and constantly trying to learn from others always thinking “big ears, small mouth.” He’s inspired by people who believe their actions can change the world – such as Andy Grove, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore – but he gets his daily inspiration from the people in his team. “Their ambitious drive to solve problems, no matter the magnitude is something I constantly admire. I see the same drive in our customers – as well as in my own daughters," said Gao.
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 When asked how he’s been able to navigate Intel in various roles – he says that he has three major values he lives by Discipline. Paranoia. And Optimism. He’s fanatically disciplined about getting laser-focused on a few big problems to set and execute strategy, superbly paranoid about preparing for and hitting the next big technology inflection point, and perpetually optimistic about our future. Sam says, “While Intel was founded on incredible values that we live into today, the diversity of the Intel community is where we can draw upon our motivation and inspiration for the future. Our heritage helped get us who we are today, but the power of our community is what will carry the company forward to solve tomorrow’s challenges in new ways.”