It is important for organisations to make mistakes when innovating, Ibec summit told

Intel Ireland’s HR director Anne Kelleher gives insight into how the semi-conductor giant innovates

Anne Kelleher, HR director for Intel Ireland, at the Ibec HR summit in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Anne Kelleher, HR director for Intel Ireland, at the Ibec HR summit in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 20:24


Failing is a necessary part of innovation, Intel Ireland’s HR director said yesterday in an insight into how the semi-conductor giant innovates.

Speaking at Ibec’s Culture for Innovation HR summit, Anne Kelleher told those attending that it was important for organisations to make mistakes when innovating.

“You need failures in innovation, and Intel is no different,” she said, but added that no innovation was redundant.

Drawing on Intel’s 24-year history in Ireland, Ms Kelleher said there have been occasions when the US chip-maker had closed operations, but that it happened concurrent with new initiatives .

“When we close a business we’re already ramping up others,” she said, adding that Intel’s Irish senior leadership had “never wavered” in this goal.

Innovation was an everyday occurrence at Intel, “it’s in our DNA”, she said, adding that “every day I’m expected to innovate at work”.

Speaking about the Irish operation’s recent success in winning a project to design its next chip processor line Quark ahead of locations such as Israel and the US, Ms Kelleher said it was an important achievement for Ireland.

“It helps keep us long-term on the Intel road map,” she said, adding that the Irish site had “nailed” manufacturing, but needed to show it could also design.

“We didn’t know where it would lead us,” she said, adding that the project meant hiring 70 software engineers in a month – “in an environment when people told us you couldn’t hire them”.

Ms Kelleher also offered an insight into the culture at the semi-conductor giant, noting that CEO Brian Krzanich (or “BK” as he is known within the firm) had created a safe environment for employees to engage in innovation.

“You need to give people the space to innovate and be there to support them.”

Also speaking at the event, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton told the audience that unemployment was set to fall over the coming months, and she was “confident” that the Live Register would fall below 400,000 in the coming weeks. This would mark the first time it had fallen to such a level since May 2009.

Ms Burton also recognised the input from the private sector in generating jobs, noting that this would help with economic recovery.

“The public and private sectors working in concert – the very model of the kind of innovation that will foster a flourishing, and sustainable, economy.”

In his presentation Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec, said the focus for recovery needed to be on the domestic economy, noting that recent tax increases have “undermined” this.

There was a “compelling economic case” to retain the reduced VAT level for the hospitality sector and the lower employer PRSI rate for low-wage workers in next week’s budget.