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From the only woman in the room to executive: How sisterhood shaped Lakecia Gunter’s Intel career

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The National Association for Female Executives, or NAFE, is one of the largest associations for women professionals and business owners in the country. Today, they published their list of top companies for executive women and Intel is listed among those honored.

It’s a perfect opportunity to hear from Lakecia Gunter, Technical Assistant to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. She has some good advice about having diverse leaders and the value of mentors. Here’s her experience as an executive woman at Intel.Lakecia_Gunter_01_web-e1563581228388.jpg

How has mentorship helped you?

When I started as a technical program manager in validation, my first manager was a 27-year veteran of Intel and she taught me the value of networking and building relationships. She gave me a list of people to meet immediately and sent personal notes of introduction to start the dialogue.

That amazing group of people became my first mentors. Along with my manager, they gave me invaluable insight on how to get things done and navigate Intel’s large, complex landscape.

This community has been instrumental throughout my career. I call them my “board of directors.” Through highs and lows, they’ve celebrated my successes and motivated me to keep going when things get tough.

I trust them because I know that they have my best interest at heart, even when the feedback is not what I might not like to hear at times. They make me better and stronger! I am forever grateful to these leaders.

Why is it important to have leaders from diverse backgrounds?

Having role models and leaders who resonate across the broader employee base is imperative.

Seeing people “like me” in leadership positions can inspire employees to stay longer, increasing retention rates, and strive for career growth and progression.

By having a leadership team that reflects a commitment to diversity and inclusion, it makes it easier to attract the best talent because they are able to see themselves represented across various levels within the company. If you can see it, you can be it.

At Intel, we are a technology leader and innovator.  Innovation requires people of diverse backgrounds, thoughts, and ideas. Diverse teams bring a tremendous amount experience and unique points of view to draw from, which can help with finding solutions to problems and generating new ideas.

How has Intel created a culture that identifies and promotes successful women?

I’ve seen a cultural shift from the time I was the only woman of color in a Validation Manager role and one of a few women managers in total. A lot of the executive women have experienced being the “only” in the room. Now the community is in the room with you.

By creating a strong network of executive women who are committed to sponsoring the next generation of women leaders we’ve changed the dynamic. They now serve as advocates and actively work to ensure that we, as women, have greater visibility and opportunities to advance our careers in all areas of the company.

What advice would you give to women who want to grow leadership skills?

It’s important to work smart. Don’t try and go it alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and build relationships. Connect with the leaders that you resonate with and whose leadership styles your admire. They will help you become a better leader. And don’t be afraid to connect with leaders who may have a different style than you because you can learn just as much from them as well.

What do you like best about working for Intel?

I love working with some of the most brilliant minds in the tech industry to develop technologies that will enhance the lives of millions of people globally. Everyday is exciting!

Working closely with Brian Krzanich has been amazing for my growth and development as a leader. The experience has opened by eyes to the enterprise. I am a better strategic thinker and have a new appreciation for driving organizational change. It’s given me an even greater appreciation for just how much our leaders care about every employee and the success and longevity of the company. It’s been better than any MBA program.