In this edition of Marketer of the Week, Ignite Visibility spotlights Karen Walker, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Intel.
Ignite Visibility applauds her and the Intel team for returning value to shareholders over the long haul. About five years ago, shares of Intel stock traded at $28.64. On Friday, shares closed at almost twice that: $48.20.
Additionally, Intel reported earnings on Friday and beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom line.
Karen Walker will ensure that Intel continues to deliver a great return to shareholders.
A Company in Need
By October 2019, Intel had been without a CMO for almost a year and a half.
In May 2018, CEO Brian Krzanich announced a management restructuring that put CMO Steve Fund into the role of special projects.
Krzanich himself later resigned. CFO Robert Swan took his place.
At that time, Intel took steps to remake its image among consumers. The company also shifted focus to B2B marketing.
One of the reasons that Swan brought Walker on board is because she has experience with overseeing those types of transitions. While at Cisco, she oversaw the company’s move towards Software as a Service (SaaS) and a recurring revenue model.
Additionally, Walker told Forbes that she wanted to help Intel develop a “clear and compelling narrative around what is their strategy going forward.”
“They need some help in making that story really clear and compelling, both internally and externally,” she continued. “There are a lot of great things the company is doing that they’re not getting credit for…a lot of goodness in terms of the strategy and the culture that needs to be told.”
Not a Novice in High-Tech
Walker joined Intel in 2019. Not only did she bring more than 20 years of marketing experience to the company, she brought more than 20 years of high-tech marketing experience to the company.
I already mentioned that she worked for Cisco. She stayed with that company for 11 years and served as CMO for four of those years.
Prior to that, she was with Hewlett Packard for eight years.
While at Cisco, Karen Walker not only saw the company’s move to SaaS, she also built a multi-award winning tech stack. Intel called it a “world-class digital marketing infrastructure.”
She also transformed the marketing function from a cost center to a profit center.
“The biggest thing I’m proudest of [at Cisco] is my team,” Walker said. “We went through a lot together and we did change what marketing meant at Cisco. That, I’m equally proud of.”
Additionally, while Walker served as CMO, Cisco’s brand value increased 16% over three years to over $34 billion. It ranked #15 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list.
Further, she led the company’s “Bridge to Possible” initiative. That effort portrayed Cisco technology as a suitable solution to some of the world’s toughest challenges, like poverty and environmental issues.
“It was a crowning moment,” Walker said about the “Bridge to Possible” campaign. “It was the right campaign and the right time for the company. The response to it, especially internally, was just phenomenal.”
Karen Walker also brings international experience to the table. Her leadership in marketing includes roles in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific regions.
In 2017 and 2019, Forbes named Walker one of the most influential CMOs in the world.
She also serves on the boards of Eli Lilly, Sprout Social, and the Association of National Advertisers.
Where to from here? I don’t know, but I’m watching Karen Walker to see where her leadership takes Intel next.
“Karen is a truly a world-class CMO,” said CEO Robert Swan. “She has deep experience with many of our most valued customers and a keen understanding of what it will take to play an even larger role in their success. We are excited to have Karen on our leadership team.”
Given her track record and experience, I understand his excitement.