Former Intel CEO Andy Grove once described Intel president Renee James as “bullheaded, impatient and very smart.”
When asked on stage Monday at the Fortune Brainstorm conference if she agreed with that assessment she laughed.
“A lot of us are this way at Intel. It’s not just describing me. It’s who we are,” she said.
Those characteristics have served the 25-year Intel veteran well in her most recent role at the company, as the right-hand woman to Intel’s latest CEO, Brian Krzanich. Both took office in May, 2013.
She readily admits that Intel missed the mobile revolution, though she says the company is on track toward its goal of selling 40 million Intel-powered tablets this year.
Even so, when she and Krzanich took office, they were forced to make “gut wrenching” and sometimes unpopular decisions at the company that caused “complaining internally,” she said.
Employees didn’t like changes in the budgeting, “flattening out the workforce” and changes in the bonus program.
In February, Krzanich described the new bonus structure as a “cultural shift” in a letter to shareholders filed with the SEC.
James explained that everybody’s bonuses used to be tied to how the company performed as a whole. She and Krzanich changed that to a mix of “business-unit specific objectives and corporate profitability,” she says, which now helps Intel enforce “accountability to operating units.”
Krzanich’s pay was not left out of the shift. The letter to shareholders noted that he was being paid “well below [former CEO] Paul Otellini’s compensation as CEO” and less than some of his peers, too, at about ” the 25th percentile relative to peer company CEOs.”
He was paid $9.6 million in 2013.