Name: Pat Gelsinger

Pat is the CEO of VMware, where he has been since late 2012.

Pat has more than 35 years of technology and leadership experience. Before joining VMware, Pat led EMC’s Information Infrastructure Products business as President and COO. And before that, he was at Intel for 30 years rising to become the company’s first CTO.

Pat has a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Stanford, a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University, and an associate’s degree in electronics from Lincoln Technical Institute.

Pat has received a number of awards and honors.  Just to name a couple, he was named a Fellow of the IEEE in 2008, and that same year awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from William Jessup University. Just this year, Pat was named the #2 Business Person of the Year by Fortune magazine.

All of that is great, but what I really like about Pat is that he is smart, approachable, listens, gives very clear direction, has found balance in his life, and has always been very open and supportive when I have needed his time.

Questions Interview:

I asked Pat three questions that were specific to him.

  1. How do you look over the horizon – a couple of years out in driving the company forward? How do you balance that with delivering on the quarterly earnings that are required of a publically traded company?
  2. I am a fan of the “Leadership Pipeline” in terms of helping to think about where you should spend time depending on your management level. As a CEO running a large public company, how do you decide where to spend your time?
  3. I learned an interesting quote quite some time ago – “85% of the jobs that our kindergartners will have in their lifetimes do not exist today.” Looking forward, that quote has never seemed truer. With that as a backdrop, what advice would you give to high school students entering college?

I then asked Pat the same six questions that I ask all interviewees – in a lightning-round format.

  1. What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?
  2. Who was your most effective boss, and what made him or her stand out?
  3. What was the most difficult transition that you made in your career?
  4. How do you approach helping someone with their career development or path?
  5. What tools and tricks do you use to find work-life balance?
  6. How do you go about building relationships with your peers and other leaders in the company?

As you can see from the questions, there were so many amazing topics that I discussed with Pat. One that really stood out for me was his response to my question about how he balances short-term earnings with doing the right things for the longer term.

As a technologist, Pat focuses not only on the day-to-day operations, but he makes sure that he is placing enough bets on the future.

“The last piece is make sure you’e placing the bets. At the end of the day and you can’t do everything. But a good successful tech company can do almost anything they want. It’s just carefully picking the best things, supporting and getting the right people on those assignments…”

Another area that I enjoyed is how Pat structures his time and works hard to maintain a good work-life balance. One key to this is his morning routine. Another is the way he tracks, measures, and adjusts the time that he spends outside of work. All of this is guided by what he calls his “personal mission.”

“I talk a lot about personal mission statements  -where you make a long term plan for your life for the next decade. If you kept living like you are today would you be happy with the next decade? And if not, fix it.”

I am sure that you will get value out of listening to my podcast with Pat!

Career Path:

After asking all of the questions above, I then asked Pat to share his career path. I asked him to start at the beginning, talk us through the path that he took, and the decisions that he made that led to where he is today.

Pat grew up on a farm. If it were not for Intel, he might have remained there today. I think you will enjoy the journey that Pat has taken.

See Also

What Does It Mean to Give as a Leader

Sanjay Poonen – Highly Successful Executive Balances Faith, Family, and Friends

Robin Matlock – A Model for Hiring Great and Trusting Her Team