EECS Alumnus Doug Fisher: Rising to the Top

Doug Fisherphoto courtesy of Intel

Fascination with electricity started Oregon State alumnus, Doug Fisher, on a path to becoming the top manager for Intel’s software and services group.

“I was intrigued with how electricity, although invisible, could create action, and by understanding how it worked you could have the ability to control things — almost like a puppeteer,” Fisher says.

A high-school class in electronics first piqued his interest, but it took some prodding to set him on a course for success. He grew up in the small town of Oakridge, Ore., but moved to Canby his junior year of high school. After graduating early, he enrolled in Lane Community College.

“I was going nowhere fast,” he says, explaining that his coursework consisted of four P.E. classes.

About a month into his first term at Lane, his mother invited a Navy recruiter to come talk to him. It was an event that changed his life. At 17 years old he joined the Navy which became his life the next five years.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the military changed me. I went through a lot of special training in the military, and every bit of that training gave me confidence, discipline and leadership skills,” Fisher says.

The training also taught him some crucial lessons about teamwork.

“When you're in a tear-gas chamber for a training exercise and have your gas masks ripped off, you quickly learn how to work together as a unit,” he says.

After a sky-diving injury, Fisher enrolled at Oregon State in electrical and computer engineering under the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. One of his most memorable classes focused on projects to simulate working in industry.

“That experience was invaluable to me. I learned that there are so many different aspects of building a product, and each person’s function has value for the team,” he says.

Fisher started his career as a software developer of real-time operating systems at Hewlett-Packard, but was quickly moved into management. At first disappointed that he could not use his technical skills, he realized that there must be something about his leadership ability that was creating this career path for him. So, instead he embraced the opportunity and continued his education at Stanford University, receiving a master’s degree in engineering management.

Climbing the ranks at Intel since 1995, Fisher has achieved the exclusive rank of corporate vice president.  He has been involved with new product development and was the director of worldwide engineering for Intel Online Services. In his new position as general manager of the Intel Software and Services Group, he is responsible for a worldwide organization that develops of a broad range of services and software. He also serves as the chairman of the Linux Foundation, and is on the board of Wind River Systems and Acronis.

But Fisher has not lost his passion for Oregon State. Not only is he an avid Beaver baseball, basketball and football fan, he is also a champion of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which he says “has produced some of the best engineering and leadership talent in the industry.”

Fisher has stayed heavily involved with Oregon State, forging partnerships where the interests of Intel and the university align such as open-source software, a method of software development in which programmers freely share source code and work together in a collaborative community.

And although his time at Oregon State helped to propel him into a successful career, it was not a strategic choice.

“I was born and raised in Oregon and my dad, uncle and brother all went to Oregon State, so I didn’t really think about it that much,” he says. “But it worked out great for me.”

It was just one part of a journey that transformed a directionless 17-year old into one of technologies rising leaders.