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Stacy Smith: Fun and Passion Inside Intel

Stacy Smith

From the fall 2016 issue of McCOMBS, the magazine for alumni and friends of the McCombs School of Business.

It was 1986 when a young Steve Jobs took the McCombs Distinguished Lecture Series stage and lit a fire in student Stacy Smith, BBA '85, MBA '88 now CFO and executive vice president of Intel.

"He just talked with such conviction about how technology could help solve some of the world's problems," Smith recalls.

So during his job hunt, Smith flew to Silicon Valley on his own dime to try to get an interview with Apple — but they weren't hiring. "I got on the interview list with Intel. I got on the interview list with Hewlett Packard. Of course, I interviewed with some of the investment banks because that's what one does," he says. But it was Intel — a small, little known company at the time — that stood out.

"They were kind of young and aggressive and doing interesting things, and I had a sense that you could grow at your own pace and advance," he recalls. "It was my lowest offer of six offers, and I've never looked back." Recently promoted to executive vice president, Smith says his best moments with Intel have come through teamwork and problem-solving: steering the company through the Great Recession after just becoming CFO in October 2007 and helping improve Intel's operations in areas where it had been sluggish, such as the Middle East and Africa.

"Intel Finance has a culture of rotations," Smith says. "We bring people in, you do a job for a period of time, you learn a skill, then you rotate into a different group or a different function — typically both — so that you can broaden your skill set." In this model, Smith has served in roles all over the world. "I think it created a lot of opportunity and growth for me," Smith says. "It's been a great place to be."

In addition to his work at Intel, Smith is on the McCombs Advisory Council, and is involved in the Corporate Finance Fellows Program, which allows McCombs students to work on real business problems with Intel finance professionals.

The passion he saw in Jobs is still key to Smith: "If you're doing something you're passionate about, you're going to be more enthusiastic," he says. "You have more fun. You do better. You progress in your career—which becomes this nice self-reinforcing process."

-Selah Maya Zighelboim

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