Girl Geek X

Girl Geek X

The fact that Intel CEO Krzanich is present at the Girl Geek Dinner speaks volumes about its priority quotient.

By Leslie Murdock, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners storyteller

Two large towering cascades of blue and white balloons billow in the wind as I make my way through the gates leading into the courtyard area of the Intel Museum. A tall burly guy most certainly security and a tiny woman probably not security, usher me to long tables where a team of people dressed in Intel blue and white t-shirts check my identification and badge me in. I chuckle looking at the yellow grass beneath my feet. Obviously it’s asleep. And will not wake till the rain returns. That’s what the little white sign stuck in its corner implies. A funny way to tell the truth about California’s pressing issue of drought.

Loud bursts of laughter and excited chatter waft throughout the courtyard. The Bay Area Girl Geeks are in full social networking mode. Some crowd around the outdoor patio tables and chairs clinking together glasses in celebration of the moment. Others talk amongst selves as they wait their turn in line to be served. Our choices are numerous. From gourmet finger food fair to summertime grilled cookout goodies. Everything and anything you wanted to drink is also available. I laugh out loud as I overhear a group of girl geeks project manage their strategy to best navigate their way through all of the food and drink stations so they can all eat and sit together at the same time. Love that – it’s just in us to do.

Elegantly she stands. Casual her mood as we make polite conversation. We both happen to gaze upon the man that stands with his back to us. I knew from all the people standing in his presence, he was in charge. They were quick to do the simplest of request. The woman and her daughter I’m speaking with certainly know him. The daughter’s avalanche of enthusiasm would not be curbed. Pacing feet move left to right. Her eyes fix on him. She waits. She speaks not one word. Sensing the presence he turns toward us – and he smiles. Their daughter runs over to him and catches him by the hand and off they go. The mom and I just laugh. Rare is this moment. I witness a tender work life balance instance with company man and freshman CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich. Intel’s Board of Directors unanimously elected Mr. Krzanich as its chief executive officer in May of 2013. Prior to that role, Mr. Krzanich was the chief operating officer in 2012, having advanced through a series of technical and leadership roles since he began his career with Intel in 1982.

At A Retailer Near You – Intel’s Internet of Things

WJimmy is a humanoid robot based on Intel Core i5 as well as Intel Edison technology that walks, talks, makes hand gestures, uses social media channels and more. It is part of the 21st Century Robot Project that provides a forum for makers worldwide to collaborate and build affordable, personalized robots using open-source design files and available apps. Jimmy can be all yours, if you own a 3-D printer. The advent of the 3-D printer is an emerging technology that can build and replicate objects on demand. The cost ranges in the hundreds of dollars and up to the thousands. The 21st Century Robot project is the brainchild of Intel’s Futurist Brian David Johnson and is the result of the collaboration of developers from USC, Olin College, and Trossen Robotics.

“21st Century Robot Manifesto – A Robot Is: Imagined first. Easy to build. Completely open source. Fiercely social. Intentionally iterative. Filled with humanity and dreams. Thinking for her/him/itself,” Intel.

My mind is overwhelmed with the endless possibilities of what I might create my robot to do. Paramount is all of the domestic responsibilities one has to do to maintain the mundane that is part of living. Yep, I think that is where I’ll start. In this way, I will have more time to create, learn to code, write, read, and think. I am struck by the numbers of us that are texting, video chatting and emailing away. Not fully present and engaged in what’s right in front of us – each other. I read about a woman who created an app that turns off her kid’s phone until he responds to her call. I’m confident we humans will find balance. We adapt. However, I think in the instances of these advances it will require a concentrated and deliberate effort.


I am awe struck, CEO Krzanich is still present, front and center with his family 105 minutes into the event. I’m impressed because managing billions of dollars and all that goes on with it – myriad of stakeholders in a global marketplace each with its own peculiarities. The fact that CEO Krzanich is even present at the Bay Area Girl Geek Diner speaks volumes about its priority quotient.

“I am proud of these leaders,” he says beaming. “They are the best among any man or women in the tech business anywhere,” he continues.

Wow, I thought, can they get any more of a ringing endorsement than that. The women executives begin by sharing their nicknames, what they liked to do when not working, and a brief overview of their realm of responsibilities. We conclude with Q&A. I sit at the edge of my seat. The girl geeks have filled the large rooms to capacity.

The first to lead in the conversation is Aicha Evans (Corporate VP – Platform Engineering Group, GM – Wireless Platform R&D Group).

“My nickname is Oreo,” she says casually.

An awkward hush weights the atmosphere. Befuddling looks appear on many of the faces seated in the audience. Quickly, without missing a beat, she explains it’s due to her love of the Oreo Cookie. The awkwardness of the moment releases into laughter. We get it. Still, in that instant, I conclude this black woman must really know and love herself beyond what anyone else would think, say or feel. I am completely captivated. A flood of hope surges through me and so do many questions.

As a point of reference, when using Oreo to describe a black person it is usually “disparaging and offensive – a black person who is regarded as having adopted the attitudes, values, and behavior thought to be characteristic of middle-class white society, often at the expense of his or her own heritage.”

How does she do it?

How does VP Evans navigate the norm of her reality – phenomenally brilliant, exemplary in business acumen, high-functioning social intelligence, thriving and achieving in the tech circles of affluence and influence? The bombardment of contrasting often negative imagery constantly pushed out in a myriad of media, coupled with the low-level expectations they perpetuate, and the glaring less than 2% of high-ranking black C-suite executive’s in the Silicon Valley technology sector makes the actuality of VP Evans a juxtaposition of normalcies. And to many others like her, I include myself as well. Our exception is that we are not in the C-suite yet. Incidentally, C-suite gets its name because top senior executives’ titles tend to start with the letter C, for chief, as in chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief information officer.

VP Evans does gives us a glimpse as she relays this one time when all of the C-suites were gathered in a meeting, cross-pollinating on data-point ideations, when a peer raged at her unprovoked.

“I did not react – we don’t make a spectacle,” she said as panning the audience. Let me just translate here. In other words, there were no hands on hips, head waving, finger pointing and furniture throwing reality TV antic behavior. Also, there was no running out of the room in tears to go blab to human resources about the meanie in the board room. No! She continued on in the meeting. VP Evans is fierce.

“I took some time to process, reflect and then I went to him,” she continues. “Is this how it’s going to be now?” she asked. “Just let me know, if these are the rules of engagement.”

Much to her surprise, she said he was receptive. What she didn’t need to say was that the behavior her colleague exhibited toward her in front of their peers and leadership team would absolutely never happen in that way again.

“Don’t be quick to assume, it’s because of fill in the blank,” she continues. “It’s easy to perceive an expression as intimidating and threatening. And they may in turn perceive you as a threat or intimidating. When in actuality, that is not the intent. Learn to read verbal cues. Pay attention to what’s not being said. And don’t be afraid to confront an issue – get more information – clarify and be open,” VP Evans said smiling.

VP Evans words of wisdom for maneuvering in the C-suite is just one of many variables that make her exceptional and most undoubtedly a CEO who will soon stand before an audience of future C-suite girl geeks introducing myself and perhaps even you reading this blog, as one of her best and brightest anywhere. That’s the Wow Factor people! Please send positive vibes to our Founders and Tech Titan CEOs of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner – Angie Chang and Sukrutha Raman Bhadoruia – you are bringing fresh water to the driest of places.

Leslie Murdock is a girl geek that works in the high-tech industry as a storyteller / communications professional. Connect @