Melissa Evers (B.S. Civil Engineering 1998) has always been building. In her childhood, that meant building with LEGOs, dreaming of architectural plans, conceptualizing structures and spaces, and designing homes. Now, as the VP of Software and Advanced Technology Group and Manager of Strategy to Execution at Intel Corporation — and recently named one of the Top 100 Diverse Leaders in Tech — she builds high-performing, transparent and accountable engineering organizations that thrive in dynamic ecosystems.

“I had always loved buildings and structures, so I explored the architecture, architectural engineering and civil engineering programs at UT,” Evers said. “Ultimately I decided to pursue civil engineering because it was a more generalized degree and offered more applicability and opportunity. It turned out to be a perfect fit for me at the time.”

However, after working in the field for a few years upon graduation, Evers soon uncovered a new branch with her passion for building, in the form of building better software, systems and strategies for more efficient production. She went back to school and earned her MBA in finance and strategy from the McCombs School of Business in 2003.

“A lot of what I learned as an engineering student was applicable to my coursework as a graduate business student,” Evers said. “This is a ‘Melissa School of Thought,’ but as an engineer you learn how to dissect problems and enable a transition, essentially breaking down a problem and dissecting it to initiate a change. To be able to tease apart what is the challenge, what is the opportunity and how you clearly crystalize those elements, understand the information you have and formulate migrating and resolving that problem is a tremendous skill to learn, not only for case-based-style MBA courses but for nearly any career.”

Evers at her UT graduation in 1998.

After working at ExxonMobil and Dell, Evers has been with Intel for over 17 years. In her current role, she leads software planning, program management and transformation initiatives in collaboration with teams across Intel, partners and open-source communities. Additionally, she meets with both internal and external clients, as well as partners and stakeholders to assess efficiency of current strategies. She leads by evaluating the industry landscape and proactively aligning strategies to adapt or change as needed and to discuss the initiation or creation of new strategies to improve the larger tech ecosystem.

“Truly, the magic of my job is in the blend of the internal-facing conversations and the external-facing conversations,” she said. “Intel’s businesses are very diverse, and software is extraordinarily multi-faceted and impactful. Connecting the products that Intel creates to the experiences that are rendered to users in the ecosystem is an exciting puzzle, especially given the rapid pace of innovation and software. It’s a vibrant place to be.”

It’s Evers’ consistency, drive and passion to empower others through her leadership that led her to be named one of the Top 100 Diverse Leaders in Tech in spring of 2021. Recipients of the prestigious title are nominated for their extraordinary leadership and character, effective and efficient management, innovation and vision.

“Named a Top 100 Diverse Leader in Tech was a gracious recognition of long decades trying to support my peers and colleagues along their journeys,” Evers said. “I started my own journey in women’s and diversity advocacy and have learned so much along the way about what it means to lead others well.”

“When I first began, I found I didn’t have all of the skills, but I had the passion and desire to learn. And the crazy thing about being vulnerable and acknowledging that you don’t know all of the answers but you want to learn is that people meet your vulnerability. They meet your intention and authenticity and are willing to teach you. Asking for help and being willing to assert that you don’t know actually enlists people in the change. People want to feel heard, so I always strive to listen to my colleagues and lift them up. How do I empower them and best support their success?”

—Melissa Evers, VP of Software and Advanced Technology Group and Manager of Strategy to Execution at Intel Corporation

As she builds coalitions of tech leaders, Evers continues to chart her own path in the tech and software industry. While she’s aware of traditional gender differences and stereotypes in engineering, especially as a female leader, she’s also hopeful for the future and the progress she’s seen. And she encourages engineers of all gender identities to set aside time to discern what they want out of their life and not just fall into what society scripts them to believe.

“One of the trends I’ve seen over the last decade is that a lot of guys are asking about work and life/family balance, which I love. It shouldn’t just be something on a woman’s periphery,” Evers said. “‘Having it all’ means different things to different people. So, what does it mean for you? Careers are much longer than people think. Thirty years, usually. People can feel such pressure to achieve and do and go all in five years right out of school. But it’s going to be okay! You can pace yourself. You can have different chapters of your life. Just don’t lose sight of what means the most to you as each chapter unfolds.”

by Maddie Schulte