Our series “Inside Intel Germany” spotlights amazing employees and the unique ways they discovered their passions and grew as professionals here. Meet Astrid Elbe, Managing Director of Intel Labs Europe, and learn about her career, shaping the future as part of a worldwide research organization and the career advise she offers to researchers.
Which research areas does Intel Labs Europe focus on?
We focus on dependable and secure intelligent autonomous systems. How to make automated driving vehicles drive safely and securely? How to use machine learning and computer vision to achieve this? Right now, we have two new research areas: One in the field of AI where we are looking for new applications running on our neuromorphic chip; One about audio and natural language processing. We are a worldwide organization and collaborate with teams in the US, China or India. Our teams in Munich and Karlsruhe work closely with local universities and are part of government funded projects together with other partners.
Tell us about your current role as Managing Director of Intel Labs Europe.
My job is like a puzzle with different pieces that create a bigger picture. One, I lead my internal research team and help team members grow their own career. Second, I manage our Intel stakeholders and stay connected to Intel lab peers and business groups in the US. Third, I represent Intel at conferences, as part of different associations and advisory boards. I am also invited to panel discussions like Digital Europe or in the German Ministry of Economy, driving digitalization in Germany and Europe.
The challenge is to keep the balance. Just being a team manager can be a fulltime job. The secret is to hire the right people. I rely on the support of my team. That’s why we select candidates together and make sure they fit well.
What are you passionate about, and how do you follow this passion in your job?
I want to shape the future of Intel. That’s what motivates me. As a managing director I am responsible for the research we do here in the region. I have freedom to choose and ask myself: What’s the relevant work? How can I make a difference with our research topic for Intel? I am empowered to make the right decisions for the right research topics. In my previous R&D jobs, I was limited in my tasks and there was not much room for growth. Now I use everything I have learned about materials, transistors and the latest technologies in the last 25 years every day.
Tell me about your team.
The research of our team helps Intel and our customers to be successful. We have experts in security, safety, dependability, computer vision, and machine learning, and in audio and speech processing. Some researchers joined right after university with a Master or PhD degree; others previously gained experience in other industrial research labs or product development. Our different backgrounds make us unique as a team.
Every project starts with a new vision, a new idea. We brainstorm those new ideas together. In my team, I create a culture where everybody is welcome. Everyone speaks up. Everyone listens. We collect all ideas even if they seem crazy or unrealistic – we look at them together. Our ideas are our key to success.
How is it to join your team?
In the beginning you receive a lot of training to get familiar with Intel products and the work of our labs. You’ll become part of a new or ongoing research project. Our labs typically have between 5-15 researchers. If you work in an early research project, you’ll support peer reviewed publications and the creation of patents. You’ll collaborate with business groups to identify potential applications for the research. It’s not just research for the sake of research. You figure out where is the value of that research for the entire product.
What advice would you give someone who thinks about joining Intel Labs?
You need to be excited about new technology and have deep expertise in engineering, computer science, and natural science. Show initiative to start new projects! You don’t have to be like the mainstream. In contrary, have your own ideas and opinions! Intel is one of the leading technology companies in the world. And we need this diversity to innovate. If you want to work with leading technologies and make a difference, Intel is the right place for you.
Inspired by Astrid’s story? Explore opportunities to launch your career with us on our Intel Germany Careers Page.