Joshua (Josh) M. Walden (CHE ’82), Senior Vice President and General Manager at Intel Product Assurance and Security Engineering Group, was the guest speaker for the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Fall 2018 graduation ceremony.
On Saturday evening, Walden spoke before a group of 527 graduates plus their families and friends. In a “welcome to the profession”, he shared his thoughts about making the workplace more diverse and inclusive.
Walden propounded a counter-intuitive approach to the issue of diversity and inclusion that, if closely inspected, yields an eye-opening perspective. As opposed to selecting a champion from diverse under-represented groups, which is often the case in many institutions, he argues that a leader from the majority should be in charge of diversity.
That leader – someone who has a high emotional quotient, who is transparent in all his actions and communications, and who understands that while diversity of employees is important, inclusion of all employees is even more important – could serve as an excellent role model.
He commented, “Change the attitudes of leadership, and you will change the culture of the company. At Intel, the stereotypical high-tech company, the journey to diversity and inclusion has been a long one, but one that was well worth our efforts.”
Walden also believes that mentoring plays an important role in inclusion, and he believes the majority leaders should be mentored as much as the diverse population of employees. Reflecting on his engineering education, Walden noted that the discipline and mindset required to achieve an engineering degree really grounded him.
Working with the many different employees he encountered in his 35 years at Intel gave him insight into real success. “It has always been the people who enabled the amazing results our company has achieved.”
“Change the attitudes of leadership, and you will change the culture of the company.” Joshua Walden
Besides being passionate about diversity and inclusion, he is also excited to offer insights on innovation to young engineers.
In a pre-commencement interview, Walden had this advice for young entrepreneurs: “The entrepreneurial programs offered at the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering are a big benefit. Most start-ups fail, so don’t move too fast and don’t over-invest. Connect with very strong advisors, and listen to them. Be open and flexible.”
In closing, Walden offered some parting words to Gator engineers as they move beyond academia to pursue their own career success:
- Whatever your fundamental values are, they must be congruent with those of your company.
- Always be transparent in your interactions with others.
- The Engineering Leadership Institute at UF is fantastic; the courses are highly valuable to your future growth.
- The multi-disciplinary learning opportunities experienced at UF are a good training ground for the real world.
- Establishing a network is all-important; begin your first day on the job and never stop.
- Keep in touch with colleagues from UF, and make an effort to meet any alumni at your new place of work.
Wise words from a man who rose through the hierarchy of a legendary high-tech company and now resides in the executive management suite.