Kim Warren builds momentum for women at Intel Corp
Personal experience gives this diversity leader
with a tech background the passion and knowledge
to lead Intel women around the globe toward success
Kim Warren is the global women's initiative manager for global diversity at Intel Corporation (Santa Clara, CA). She's as comfortable reading a book of poetry as she is studying a technical manual. She is as adept on stage entertaining an audience as she is at work building enthusiasm for Intel's female employees.
Warren grew up in Little Rock, AR, the oldest of four sisters. "Growing up, my interests were in the arts, theater and dance. I was also a gymnast. But when it came time to go to college, my dad had read that computers and computer science were the up-and-coming areas. His idea was for us to be self-sufficient and be able to take care of ourselves."
Warren received a BS in computer information systems in 1985 from DeVry University (Irving, TX) and an MBA with a concentration in telecommunications management from the University of Dallas (Irving, TX) in 1991.
"There were some challenges when I was in college," she remembers. "The math was fine but it was the logic and programming parts and some of the languages that I had to get a handle on. Because DeVry wasn't a massive university, I didn't feel buried. There weren't many women in my class, and the upperclass guys took us under their wings and looked out for us. It was a great experience.
"At DeVry, I participated in talent shows, wrote plays and found ways to feed my creative side, which was a blessing," she says. "I became interested in telecommunications from one of the classes I took there and decided to pursue it in grad school."
Between undergraduate and grad school, Warren worked for a subsidiary of pharmaceutical drug wholesaler FoxMeyer Health Corporation (Carrollton, TX). "I made a lot of technical training videos for them," she remembers. "When I travelled to the stores to upgrade systems, they would say, 'Oh, it's the lady from the video!'"
Meanwhile, a woman she knew worked for Nortel and told her that the company had an opening in its training center. Warren interviewed and got the job in 1991. "That was my entry into telecommunications," she smiles. She stayed in training for about a year before moving to R&D. She worked on a team that developed custom software features for MCI. Warren focused on features for MCI's Mechanized Calling Card Services (MCCS) software on Nortel's DMS-250 switch.
"MCI had a secondary vendor called DSC Communications. A lot of us were being courted by DSC. At that time I was looking to move into something more like product line management, and DSC gave me the opportunity." She joined DSC in 1994, two days after she competed in a national beauty pageant where she was crowned Miss Black Texas Metroplex.
Her first role at DSC was as a software development engineer IV, where she worked with engineering requirement specs. From there she was named senior software development engineer, where she provided technical support for sales and marketing departments. Her last role before leaving the company in 1999 was staff engineer for international product marketing.
Warren worked at startup company Vertel (Woodland Hills, CA) for a year before joining Trillium Digital Systems (Los Angeles, CA). Intel Corporation acquired Trillium in 2000.
The Intel experience
Warren joined Intel as a product marketing engineer, and was named a technology leadership marketing campaign manager in 2004.
In 2006, Warren became events marketing manager for corporate diversity, responsible for strategy and planning of Intel's presence at external diversity events.
She worked extensively with professional organizations looking at the progress of underrepresented populations in engineering.
In 2008, she assumed her current title. "This is not a position I pursued," she explains. "It was offered to me. I don't have an HR background and I didn't know if I was the right person for the job. I wasn't scared but I was a little uncomfortable." As global women's initiative manager for global diversity, Warren creates and implements strategies that impact retention and build enthusiasm for Intel's female employees and strengthen Intel's diversity commitment. Warren also represents Intel on corporate advisory boards of external technical and non-technical women's organizations and speaks at external engagements.
Reflection on attitudes
Warren believes that she has been successful in her role. Her commitment to it and the responsibilities it brings are built on her personal experience. "In the workplace, even going back to FoxMeyer, I worked with mostly men," Warren reflects. "Thinking back over what some people said, I would attribute it to, 'Oh, that's just the guys.' But I know differently now, especially with the work I do in diversity. There were managers then who didn't think that women should be in the workplace doing the work we were doing, and they made no bones about it."
Warren believes, though, that a lot of the comments and attitudes she faced in the past were not ill-intended at the time. "It's just how it was," she says. "'If you're going to play with the boys, this is how the boys play.' There were no concessions.
"I don't think just because I made it through that type of environment, others should have to experience those things," she states emphatically. "Today it's about being inclusive, not exclusive, and allowing everybody to thrive in their careers."
Does she miss the tech role? Sometimes, she admits, but she explains, "I try to stay abreast of where the company is technically, but I like what I'm able to do here, making a difference and making an impact. I'm spending time in a good place right now."
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