What is your current technical field and what made you choose that particular area of interest?
Trish Damkroger I am currently the vice president and general manager of the High Performance Computing (HPC) group at Intel. In this role, I am responsible for setting the technical HPC strategy from exascale to department level supercomputers. My responsibilities include hardware and software development, ecosystem enablement and go to market capabilities. Before joining Intel in late 2016, I was the acting associate director of computation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where I led a 1000+ group of supercomputing engineering and scientific experts. I feel fortunate to have found the field of High Performance Computing while working at the national laboratories. I truly believe that HPC changes the world through new drug discovery, airplane designs or every day needs like better consumer goods. The combination of technically interesting hardware and software with passionate scientists and engineers drives my passion for HPC.
What’s been your greatest challenge and your greatest reward in your professional career?
Trish Damkroger My greatest challenge in my professional career has been transitioning from a national lab to Intel. After 15 years in a 6000-8000 person organization where I knew how everything worked, I jumped to over a 100,000+ person organization that spanned the globe. The onboarding process was minimal and the group I was hired into was not healthy. There were times during my first year that I wanted to quit. However, I had relocated my family from California to Oregon and I was not going to give up. Three years later, I am still here at Intel and have turned my struggles of onboarding and integration into something more rewarding. I have partnered with other senior women in our organization to create a group that focuses on building a strong community of senior women in order to deepen relationships and support one another, develop business acumen and skills for career growth, increase visibility and connections within our organization and enhance the onboarding and integration into the group. I am learning and growing every day which equates to the best part of my career.
How did your professional journey begin?
Trish Damkroger My first role after college was with Hewlett Packard as a manufacturing development engineer. I loved this job because it was very hands on working with manufacturing. I also went back to school part time because I realized there was still a lot to learn. After two years, I moved to Sandia National Labs in Livermore, CA and got married. I was the only female engineer on the team and the youngest. Though at times I felt a little intimidated, in the end it helped my career because I stood out. I ended up having many mentors and sponsors who helped guide me along the way. I was quickly promoted to management and enjoyed driving large programs with the Department of Energy. I have always been willing to try new things and I think that has helped propel my career.
What are the unique qualities or characteristics that you have brought to your career and workplace?
Trish Damkroger The unique qualities that were differentiating while working at the national laboratories was my balance of technical and managerial skills. I was able to take the technical aspects and assimilate them into understandable terms to convince funding agencies or upper management. I also love to solve puzzles, whether it is finding the right job for a specific person with certain skills or gluing together different technologies for a unique value proposition. My recent position has allowed me to combine technical, people management and business together, which is my favorite to date. Figuring out what customers will want 3-5 years out and putting together the plan to make it happen excites me every day.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a young person just starting out in their career?
Trish Damkroger The best piece of advice I would give to a young person just starting out in their career is that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. You will have big hills, flat plains and valleys. You will have jobs along the way that will be stepping stones to something bigger and better as well as those jobs that may feel like you are taking a step backwards. As long as you continue to learn, you will grow with each position and options will continue to become available. I truly adhere to the mantra of being open to outcome. I would never have imagined I would be working at Intel in Oregon. It was never in the plans, but I can’t imagine not being here today.
What have you found rewarding about being an IEEE and/or Computer Society member and/or volunteer?
Trish Damkroger Working on the Supercomputing Conference (SC) has been a highlight of my career. First, the committee is an extended family where you work hard together but also have fun together. I have close friends who I dearly treasure from the many hours working together. By working on the various committees, I learned certain things I would never have exposure to such as hospitality contracts, how an exhibition floor is built and torn down, and how much fiber is laid for the network. Through these experiences, I have developed a much deeper appreciation for everything that goes into putting on a big conference. As chair of Supercomputing Conference, I learned the power of a volunteer organization working together to put on the best conference possible. It does not matter what your title or status is, when the conference encounters a problem, everyone shows up and works together until the solution is found. SC will always be my favorite conference of the year with many fond memories.
About Trish Damkroger:
Patricia (Trish) A. Damkroger is vice president and general manager of the High Performance Computing organization in the Data Platforms Group at Intel Corporation. She leads Intel’s global technical and high-performance computing (HPC) business and is responsible for developing and executing strategy, building customer relationships and defining a leading product portfolio for technical computing workloads, including emerging areas such as high-performance data analytics, HPC in the cloud and artificial intelligence.
An expert in the HPC field, Damkroger has more than 27 years of technical and managerial expertise both in the private and public sectors. Prior to joining Intel in 2016, she was the associate director of computation at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where she led a 1,000-member group comprised of world-leading supercomputing and scientific experts.
Since 2006, Damkroger has been a leader of the annual Supercomputing Conference (SC) series, the premier international meeting for high performance computing. She served as general chair of the SC’s international conference in 2014 and has held many other committee positions within industry organizations.
Damkroger holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She was recognized on HPC Wire’s “People to Watch” list in 2014 and 2018.
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