Yesterday Qualcomm (tkr: QCOM) announced that Cristiano Amon – an engineer – would become the company’s next CEO in June. Current QCOM CEO Steven Mollenkopf is also an engineer. This contrasts sharply with Intel (tkr: INTC), CEO Bob Swan – a career CFO.
If you regularly read these pages and listen to our TEK2day Podcast you know we prefer Technology CEOs with technology-centric backgrounds such as electrical engineers, software engineers, software developers, software architects and the like. Technology CEOs with such backgrounds are better prepared to recognize trends early and to lead organizations capable of capitalizing on those trends.
Despite fighting an anti-trust battle over the past few years Qualcomm has managed to innovate. Meanwhile Intel has had to fight to remain relevant. This tale of two cities is a function of who sits at the top of each company as CEOs greatly influence a given company’s culture, operating principles and priorities.
Microsoft (tkr: MSFT), provides another fine example of how a firm behaves differently under CEOs with different values, principles and approaches. The pace of innovation, product strategy, partnerships and growth have flourished under current MSFT CEO Satya Nadella – an engineer. Contrast this to former MSFT CEO Steve Ballmer‘s tenure (Ballmer was trained as a Marketer), which was marked by failure to capitalize on a number of technology mega-trends including Mobile Phones, Mobile OS, Social Media and Search while being criminally late to Cloud Computing.