- Intel hired Karen Walker as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, effective Oct. 23, to oversee the chipmaker's global marketing group, per a company announcement. Walker reports to Michelle Johnston Holthaus, who two weeks ago was promoted to executive vice president and general manager of Intel's sales, marketing and communications group.
- Walker previously was CMO at networking hardware giant Cisco, where she oversaw its shift to a hybrid business model of selling hardware, software and services. Before Cisco, Walker worked at Hewlett-Packard, where she held both business and consumer leadership positions.
- Walker is a board member of Eli Lilly, Spark Social and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). She graduated from Loughborough University in England and was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration from the University of Sunderland last year.
By hiring Walker as CMO, Intel is rebuilding its managerial ranks after more than a year of turmoil that reflected some of the broader questions facing marketers in the digital era, including the role of the CMO and whether to in-house certain responsibilities previously handled by agencies.
Intel has been without a CMO since May 2018, when the company's former CEO Brian Krzanich announced a shakeup that reassigned former CMO Steve Fund to special projects, the Oregonian reported, citing an internal memo. Krzanich later resigned and was replaced by former CFO Robert Swan.
A few months after Fund's departure, Intel undid much of his work to build an in-house agency that was tasked with revamping the company's image among consumers. A subsequent shift toward business-to-business marketing led the company to cut back the operations of its internal creative group, Agency Inside. Last November, Intel cut the creative and production staffers at the agency, leaving about 30 people to focus on enterprise markets. In January, Intel's former VP and global creative director, Teresa Herd, left the company. She previously worked with Fund at office-supply chain Staples before they both joined Intel in 2014.
Intel's reinvigorated B2B focus aligns well with Walker's background at Cisco, whose business model has shifted toward recurring revenue from software as a service (SaaS) subscriptions. The company's focus on innovative digital marketing helped to increase Cisco's brand value, Walker told Forbes. She oversaw major campaigns such as Cisco's "Bridge to Possible" effort that showcased the applications for its technology, including everything from alleviating poverty to Domino's pizza delivery.