For launching outstanding initiatives to retain, promote, and recognize women engineers at Intel; and for remarkable diligence in ensuring the success of the cohort networking program.
Nels Swenson is a senior director for Intel Corporation’s Network and Edge Group. In his 23 years at Intel, he has held leadership roles in product development, manufacturing engineering, technical marketing, supply chain, and business operations, and most recently as the general manager of Intel’s Switch and Fabrics Group.
For eight years, he served as a director of product development and supply chain in the Datacenter Engineering Group. In that position, Swenson guided a team of 12 technical program managers, which included four women, through hardware and software development solutions; notably, this included the development of an accelerator card used for the world’s No. 1 supercomputer, which performed climate modeling, medical imaging, and human genome research. He also coordinated product development for the wireless network card in Intel’s Centrino platform, wrote Intel’s first technical program management (TPM) pillars, and created a TPM career development tool.
The father of four daughters, Swenson has focused on the advancement of women in engineering throughout his career at Intel. He established a Culture Pioneer Award to give visibility to employees who most exemplify Intel’s values, with the goal of honoring men and women equally. Swenson is sought out for his mentoring ability, and his mentees have gone on to leadership roles within the company.
Swenson mentors women in the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. He has been a technical mentor for a woman in Morocco through TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Swenson was a finalist in 2020 for an Intel Mentor of the Year Award, and he received that award in 2021 through Intel’s Connectivity Group.
On his own time, Swenson created a career development cohort program to retain and promote women technical professionals by enabling them to network with each other and connect with executives in their organizations. To ensure the success of Intel’s program and to avoid the known pitfalls of similar programs at other organizations, Swenson selected participating executives carefully, trained coordinators thoroughly, and conducted a midcourse review. Implemented in Intel’s Connectivity Group, the cohort program eventually included 250 diverse employees: 227 women and 23 men. Twenty-five executives were matched with employees, who were divided into 10-person groups to discuss substantive career development topics at a series of nine monthly meetings. Three women who were matched with a corporate vice president were promoted to principal engineer in the review cycle after their cohort experience. Judged a success by participants, the cohort program has been replicated across the company.
Swenson holds a B.S. from Willamette University and an MBA from the university’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. He serves as a volunteer coach for girls’ basketball and softball teams in his community, where he focuses on team building and making sure accomplishments are recognized.