The EEC 290 Seminar Series is one of the major highlights this quarter, spearheaded by Prof. Marina Radulaski and Prof. Weijian Yang. The series aims to provide students with an opportunity to hear from distinguished engineers and innovators, across multiple tech disciplines.
One of the most highly anticipated speakers and influential women in tech was our very own ECE alumna Diane Bryant. Bryant’s journey started in American River College, where she took classes and worked three jobs to support herself. Not yet sure what to do, her path to ECE began when she heard of the starting salary for electrical engineers post bachelors. Following this discovery, Bryant transferred to UC Davis, pursuing Electrical Engineering looking forward to reaping the rewards.
Her future proved to be most successful and decorated with accolades. Successfully graduated with a B.S in Electrical Engineering from UC Davis, Bryant was hired at Intel, operating under microprocessor design and engineering management for 13 years. Slowly, she worked up the ladder over the course of 32 years, climbing the ranks of employment/employees to Chief Information Officer, and conclusively Group President of the $19B data center business. As she was promoted in Intel, Bryant also graduated from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in the Executive Program after being selected as a CEO successor. After leaving Intel following 32 years of service, she was recruited by Google, serving as the Google Cloud Platform’s Chief Operations Officer (COO). becoming an independent board director for United Technologies, Broadcom Inc, and several early-stage start-ups.
Her talk, “Technology: The Disruptor” left a lasting impression on everyone in the packed lecture hall. Undergraduates, grad students, faculty and staff animatedly filed in to hear Bryant enliven everyone’s hopes and dreams in one of the most poignant talks of the year. Prof. Weijian described Bryant “as a very successful leader in various high-tech companies, she shared her three keys for success: grit, EQ and the need for advocates. This insightful perspective resonated with many of us and is valuable advice for our students. During the seminar, we felt Bryant’s passion towards technology, intelligence towards leadership, and perseverance towards excellence.” Needless to say, Bryant’s story gripped our emotions, instilling aspiring engineers in the audience with renewed motivation for innovation and the future of technology. Many of the students emphasized Bryant as a role model, expressing hope to achieve as much as she has in their own burgeoning careers. Adil Abbuthalha, ECE Staff, described Bryant’s talk as “exhilarating, as the talk empowered the youth in the audience. It served as a great reminder that it doesn’t matter where you begin your journey, it’s what you do along the way.”
We interviewed Diane to gain insight regarding her journey:
If the students only left with one takeaway, what do you hope that is?
My hope is that the students of ECE left feeling excited by the opportunities and motivated to have an impact. There isn’t a better time to enter the world of technology. The field is ripe for innovation. And the space for innovation exists for the entrepreneur and intrapreneur – joining a start-up or an established corporation. The choices are endless.
What was the toughest part of your journey?
The most difficult part of my journey was sticking with the job despite the natural hurdles and barriers, whether they came from extremely complex assignments or the feeling of gender discrimination. Being an engineer means working with challenges on a daily basis. The rewards, however are huge. Resiliency is key. It takes GRIT!
If you could give one piece of advice to our students, what would it be?
As an engineer entering the workforce, I believe it is important to make sure your first role is technical. You may feel a life in marketing or project management or sales is where your future lies. But success in any of those roles comes from a strong foundation of technology. I spent my first seven years as a technical contributor and those years were rewarded and critical. After those seven years, I went into management of engineering teams, then onto general management and the CIO role. My success as a leader came from my first hand knowledge of the technology and development process.
What was your most impactful memory here at UC Davis?
The silo! I remember hanging out in the silo with friends, eating, debating, deliberating…and of course, studying.
Here at ECE, we take pride in our alumni and are beyond honored to call Diane Bryant one of ours.