Intel’s Canada office is located in an anonymous office building near Toronto’s international airport.
Open the door which carries the company’s name, and the visitor faces an almost empty room. It’s surreal: There is no front desk at the Canadian headquarters of this international
“No one comes here except manufacturer’s reps,” explains country manager Doug Cooper. “So we didn’t need a receptionist.”
This perhaps speaks to how lean an operation he runs, and its modest size: about 30 people report to the 46-year-old Cooper.
Its impact, however, is huge. Cooper’s job is more than overseeing marketing and channel strategies with major PC importers like IBM and Toshiba.
It includes persuading Canadian manufacturers – ranging from Nortel Networks to the 5,000 makers of PC white boxes – to put Intel inside.
Increasingly, it also means forging new alliances with businesses not because they buy Intel’s products but because they sell services its products use.
Which is why we honour Cooper as Newsmaker of the Year: For Intel Canada’s imaginative campaigns with partners in the launch of its Centrino wireless technology. Not only did they help the spread the brand’s visibility, but they also boosted the sudden leap in this country of WiFi hotspots and the demand for Centrino-equipped laptops.
For example, a demonstration with Bell Mobility of wireless Internet connectivity on Via Rail trains drew tremendous TV and newspaper publicity here as well as attention abroad: Cooper says Intel staff in Asia, where train travel is more popular than in North America, demanded to know how he pulled it off.
A graduate in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1981, Cooper joined Intel three years later after a stint with IBM.
The new job entailed explaining complicated technical projects to engineers that could be commercially exploited. He found he had a knack for distilling jargon.
That led to helping create an Intel team to help manufacturers understand how to spot the opportunities of technology, which lead him into marketing.
In 1995 he was put in charge of Intel Canada’s marketing, and for a time had responsibility for Latin America as well. Today he not only runs the Canadian operation but he is also Intel’s government affairs liaison and sits on the board of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).
His ease with the press has led Cooper to being a spokesman for almost everything in technology: From mobility to games to copyright, he almost never says no.
And sometimes he’s refreshingly candid. For example, he’s upfront enough to admit that Intel has a “vested interest” in computers continuing to be important in digital entertainment, which is why he speaks out on copyright.
“It just comes naturally,” he says of being a spokesman. “A lot of it has to do with putting yourself in the shoes of the people who have to read it, and being passionate about the topic.”
In addition to wireless, his priorities this year have been to beat the drums for another Intel vested interest, corporate refresh of desktops and servers. In fact he considers the best decision he made was to create a section that deals more directly with partners and businesses to find the tools they need to carry the message.
His worst decision? “Not doing that soon enough” because of the Centrino launch.
The channel, of course, is vital to Intel Canada: An estimated 80 per cent of the company’s business in one way or another goes through it. Of those sales, almost half is from locally assembled PCs and servers.
In line with the company’s search for new alliances, the channel can expect next year new initiatives to help push wireless. For example, Cooper is working with cellphone carriers to help resellers sell notebook combos with wireless cards that include wireless area network services.
He’ll also continue to push businesses on the need to upgrade old PCs, as well as convince them that Intel’s high-end Xenon and Itanium servers can carry enterprise loads.
“Intel has been a fun ride,” he reflects. “It’s never been the same month to month. It has a lot of challenges, but I enjoy the variety.
“I would die in a job that was the same every day.