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Challenge Accepted

David Zinsner's career moves have taken him to the top of the Semiconductor industry

David Zinsner
Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Intel Corporation

Vanderbilt MBA 1996

Looking back on more than 20 years in the semiconductor and technology industry, David Zinsner says the best move he ever made involved taking on “a high-risk role.” When a private equity firm bought one of the businesses owned by Harris Corporation, where Zinsner was an analyst/manager, they invited him to join the newly purchased company, Intercil, as treasurer. The risk, he says, is that “the company might have gone under.”

Instead, Zinsner helped take Intercil public the following and became the number two finance person at the semiconductor company.

Zinsner’s career took off, too. In 2009, he became Senior Vice President and CFO at Analog Devices — a multibillion-dollar company with 15,000 employees. Eight years later, he made another bold move — accepting the position of President and CFO at startup software company Affirmed Networks, with only 100 employees and a total budget just one-tenth of the amount that giant ADI spent on engineering alone.

“I wanted to go to a place with a very different growth dynamic,” Zinsner says — “a company with high-growth, disruptive technology. That’s an interesting challenge and something I could learn a lot from.”

In early 2018, he took another challenge that interested him, this time as Senior Vice President and CFO of Boise-based Micron Technology, a computer memory and data storage company that in 2019 produced the first MicroSD card with a storage capacity of one terabyte.

The principle that guided his tech career — as someone with no technical or engineering background — forms part of the advice he offers Vanderbilt MBA students today: “Don’t get too wound up about which company you go to work for [upon graduation],” he says. “Get to a place where you think you can grow and can learn.”