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Christine “Chris” King Is Breaking Through Barriers and Building Billion-Dollar Businesses

Updated: 7 days ago

In the ever-evolving world of technology, few stories are as compelling and inspirational as that of Christine “Chris” King. From her humble beginnings as a single mother with limited prospects to becoming the first female CEO in the semiconductor industry, Chris King's journey is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unyielding ambition.

Born in 1950, Chris King faced significant challenges from a young age. By the time she was 20, she was a single mother, navigating the difficulties of raising a child with limited resources. Living in a trailer and relying on welfare, she had every reason to accept a life of constraints. But Chris was determined to break the mold. With sheer tenacity, she convinced her caseworker to allow her to pursue a college education in electrical engineering. "I graduated from high school, had a baby when I was 18, got married young as well, never got to go to college," Chris recalls. "But I talked my caseworker into letting me go to college, and I earned a two-year degree in electrical engineering." This marked the beginning of a remarkable journey.

Chris started her career at IBM as a technician, but her drive and passion for the field propelled her to further her education. She eventually earned multiple degrees, including a Bachelor of Science with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Her return to IBM saw her climbing the corporate ladder in an industry dominated by men. Her exceptional leadership and technical skills led to the creation of a $1.5 billion business for IBM. Despite the obstacles, including seeing her hard work handed over to a male colleague, Chris persevered. Her breakthrough came when she became the CEO of IBM's semiconductor (chip) division, making her the first woman to hold such a position in the industry.

Chris's career did not stop at IBM. She went on to serve as President and CEO of AMI Semiconductor, leading the company to success before its acquisition by ON Semiconductor in 2008. Her leadership journey continued with roles at Standard Microsystems and as Executive Chairman at QLogic Corporation. Each position showcased her dynamic ability to navigate and lead diverse sectors within the technology landscape. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to found Expedition Electronics, emphasizing customer-centric innovations. Chris also proved her versatility by excelling in dairy farming and cow cutting, achieving championship status in both arenas. Her multifaceted achievements are chronicled in her upcoming book, "Breaking Through the Silicon Ceiling," set for release in July.

"The reason I wrote the book is because of other women in tech with large education backgrounds," Chris explains. "My experience was from a blue-collar background. During my career, I was encouraged by people like Lisa Su to write about my story. I was a mentor for many years, and everyone knew that my story was going to be educational and inspiring." Chris's story is one of vision and perseverance. "When you have a vision, sell it. I always looked at my caseworker with welfare as the first major sale I had to make to really make moves."

Today, Chris King continues to make strides in the business world. She currently serves as the CEO of a dental software company and remains active on the boards of numerous multinational companies. Her future goals include potentially writing another book about her extensive experiences as a CEO and continuing to inspire the next generation of leaders.

Chris King's journey from a trailer on welfare to the helm of billion-dollar enterprises is not just a personal triumph; it's a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone facing insurmountable odds. Her story reminds us that with passion, perseverance, and a willingness to push boundaries, anything is possible.

For more on Christine "Chris" King and her upcoming book, visit Christine King.


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