Imprimir Republish


Eyes on the consumer

As Intel president Fernando Martins sees it, young professionals should launch their careers while still in school.

094-095_carreiras_207-3IntelAt age 48, Fernando Martins has, since 2010, been president and general manager in Brazil of Intel, the world’s largest computer chip manufacturer. His path to the head of the company began back in the 1980s, while studying electrical engineering and computer sciences at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo. “I did several internships in companies that ranged from textiles to pharmaceuticals,” says Martins. “For those like myself who are thinking about working in industry, it’s important to get into the field early on, while you’re still engaged in your studies,” adds Martins, who encourages undergraduates begin their search for internship positions by their third year.

Already employed soon after graduating from college, Martins earned a master’s degree while working as an engineer. His research interests in computer sciences always focused on digital media – image processing, graphics and video codification – which led to a PhD at Carnegie Mellon University, in the U.S. There he worked on codification and video transmission projects. “I found myself at one of the world’s greatest centers for innovation,” Martins recalls, “and began coming up with ideas about how to use more and more digital images and Internet videos at a time when this technology was just beginning to take hold.”

Martins’ first contact with Intel was in the early 1990s, and, by 1997, the company hired him. “We invented compression technologies to reproduce videos on the computer via the Internet, enabling the creation of programs like Skype and YouTube,” he recalls. Martins worked at Intel’s labs for seven years before embarking on a new track inside the company. He transferred to the company’s strategic planning division, where he was responsible for determining which laboratory technologies would be used to develop new Intel products. It was then that Martins began to see consumers differently: now planning, in his view, would require a broad consideration of the full range of available alternatives – along with a dose of foresight about what lies ahead.

Over the past few years, Intel has determined that Brazil is realistically positioned to transform itself to an important center for innovation, and the company placed Martins there as their head man. “By working alongside the country’s researchers and technicians, we plan to invest $300 million reais in research and development over five years, with a focus on software, education, transportation, and energy,” Martins explains.

With 40 published articles and 24 patents to his name, what Martins really wants is for consumers to start seeing some of the returns. “Changing people’s lives through the technology we create is an incomparable feeling,” he says. For Martins, the researcher seeking a clear vision of the industry should have one eye on the lab and the other on consumers and their wants.