A few days later, he received a surprise call from Mr. Grove. The Hungarian-born executive, then Intel chairman who later wrote the management book Only the Paranoid Survive, had built a culture where lower-level employees were encouraged to challenge their superiors if they could back up their positions. Mr. Grove began mentoring Mr. Gelsinger, a relationship that spanned three decades.
In 1986, Mr. Grove convinced Mr. Gelsinger not to pursue a doctorate at Stanford University and instead made him, at age 24, the leader of a 100-person team designing Intel’s 80486 microprocessor. . Mr. Gelsinger eventually earned eight patents, became Intel’s youngest vice president in 1992 and the first person to hold the title of chief technology officer in 2001.
His rise on the Intel ladder was shaped by another priority: his faith.
Although he grew up in the United Church of Christ, Mr Gelsinger said he didn’t really become a Christian until he attended the non-denominational church in Silicon Valley, where he met Linda Fortune , who later became his wife. It was in this church in 1980 that he heard the pastor quote the Apocalypse.
After Mr. Gelsinger became a born-again Christian, he privately debated whether he should join the clergy. In a 2019 oral history conducted by the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., he said he ultimately decided to become a “minister of labor,” where “you really see yourself as working for God as a CEO, even if you’re working for Intel.
In the mid-2000s, Mr. Gelsinger’s position at Intel changed. Mr Grove retired as chairman of the board in 2004. Another executive, Paul Otellini, was appointed chief executive in 2005. Mr Gelsinger said he was a “dissonant voice” within of Intel’s leadership team.
Mr. Otellini pushed him to leave, Mr. Gelsinger said. (Mr. Otellini died in 2017.) In 2009, Mr. Gelsinger accepted an offer to become president and chief operating officer of EMC, a maker of data storage equipment.
Leaving Intel after 30 years as a businessman hurt a lot. “I was so angry and emotional about leaving,” Mr. Gelsinger said.