Women in Big Data is spotlighting 8 amazing women on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
Cristina Rodriguez is Vice President in the Data Center Group and General Manager of the Wireless Access Network Division, Intel Corporation.
As a vice president in the Data Platforms Group at Intel Corporation, and general manager of the group’s Wireless Access Network Division (WAND), I lead Intel’s efforts in the wireless access network with a focus on 5G, the next generation of wireless networks. I am responsible for strategy, product roadmaps and definitions, investment decisions and ultimately the success or failure of the business I oversee. Passionate about new technology and use cases, as well as about solving problems, I’m completely customer obsessed.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría in Havana, Cuba, and my master’s degree in computer science from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Madrid, Spain; in addition, I completed the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University (and I’m also a member of Intel’s Hispanic Leadership Council).
How did I get to where I am today?
I didn’t always want to be (or even plan to be) the VP of a business. I am an engineer by education, but moreover by heart. I think about things with the mindset of an engineer: decomposing an issue, debugging it, finding the root cause, and creating solutions. But I’ve also always had interests beyond that engineering core, particularly in business, and I’ve taken the time to explore those. In doing so I discovered how applicable the problem-solving mentality is in business and leadership. Taking every opportunity that I was presented with to expand my core role—presenting software strategy to upper management, presenting next generation software to the customer, or volunteering to lead cross functional teams—allowed me to leverage my natural strength in problem solving, but do so in a way that over time expanded my ability to work, think, and maneuver as a business person and a leader. My position today is the natural extension of who I am in my heart and the ways I’ve learned to apply that problem-solving approach successfully to a business. I also always have a sense of responsibility and ownership for the overall business results.
There are two things that keep me motivated:
First, solving problems to be able to keep my customers happy. In business, you can’t make money unless you are solving problems for your customers. And you can’t be successful if your customers are not successful.
Second, my team keeps me motivated. I work with one of the best teams on the planet. It is the hard work of this amazing, super-talented team that enables us able to solve problems and succeed. Seeing their creativity, their dedication and their willingness to make customers successful is inspiring.
Advice I would give to other women who are trying to advance:
I believe there are three key ingredients to success in the business world, no matter the industry. First, you need to work hard. Woman are often coached to network more, and we should. But nothing can take the place of the value you add through your work. Work hard, demonstrate your value, then ensure you have a network capable of recognizing and amplifying your hard work and achievements. The two go hand in hand.
Second, you need to solve problems for your customers. And you need to listen to your customers and understand their challenges and aspirations. Don’t forget that you don’t have to be a person who sells product to have customers—your boss, your boss’s boss, your teammates…those people are your customers. Make them successful by solving their problems and there’s no stopping you.
Third, don’t take no for an answer. There are many ways to achieve success, no single road will get you there. If you’re told no, find another way to make your goal happen, and always with integrity. You can persevere knowing that the path to your goal will change, but your goal doesn’t have to.
My last thoughts:
There isn’t a finite amount of room at the top. There’s a quote from Madeline Albright that I love, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” We should lift one another up, our peers, our mentees, and our executives. We should celebrate every woman’s success as our own. I feel a sense of responsibility to the next generation of women leaders, and I challenge all the women I mentor to push themselves out of their comfort zones. It excites me to see everything the women around me are capable of, and the collective brilliance of women. I strongly encourage each of you to do the same. It’s so satisfying, and makes me both happy and proud.