Shavers, Cheryl 19(?)(?)–
Cheryl Shavers 19(?)(?)–
Cheryl Shavers discovered what she wanted out of life from a young prostitute she knew only as “Miss Ann.” Shocked by Miss Ann’s murder, Shavers resolved to break out of her poor neighborhood and pursue a career in science. Her drive led her higher and higher on the corporate ladder, through a series of savvy career moves, until she was the highest-ranking black woman at Intel Corp. and one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent female leaders. In 1999, she was named Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology at the Department of Commerce under the Clinton administration.
Cheryl Shavers was raised by her mother in a two-room apartment in a predominantly black neighborhood in South Phoenix, Arizona. Shavers’s mother, who never completed high school, worked as a maid and picked cantaloupes to support Shavers and her older sister. Her dream for her daughters was that they graduate from high school and grow up to work in air-conditioned offices.
When she was a girl, Shavers sewed her own clothes and knew to hide with her family when the rent collector came looking for the rent. She learned both what she did and did not want her life to be through “Miss Ann,” a young neighborhood prostitute in an abusive relationship. Shavers and her friends befriended Miss Ann. They recycled bottles for her and gave her the money every Friday. One Friday, Miss Ann did not show up. After promising her mother she wouldn’t look, 13-year-old Shavers peeked from behind the curtains of the family’s apartment and watched, fascinated, as forensic technicians in white lab coats investigated the scene of Miss Ann’s murder. “I got into science from that,” she recalled in an interview with the Arizona Republic. “I was hooked, I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she was quoted as saying in Rocky Mountain News. “And, today, I’m grateful to Miss Ann, for showing me a direction I didn’t want to take.”
Miss Ann’s death prompted Shavers to seriously consider her future, and she decided she had to escape her impoverished neighborhood. “I knew how to get out because I could read and I had to get out because the environment was dangerous,” Shavers told the Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News. After graduating from South Mountain High School, Shavers studied chemistry on a scholarship at Arizona State University.
As a student, Shavers got a chance to fulfill the curiosity she developed while watching the crime-scene forensic scientists as a girl. She secured an internship at Phoenix’s crime lab. There, she helped develop a procedure to separate blood enzymes from cloth. Soon after, the technique provided proof in a murder conviction. She also got what she considers her first dose of discrimination. For no reason, the lab director ordered Shavers to don a janitor’s uniform and wash police cars. She walked away from the internship—and forensic chemistry—after that. “That experience taught me about making decisions and to just keep going but to always maintain your dignity,” she told the Arizona Republic.
Baised in Phoenix, AZ; married: Joe Agu, 1984; daughter: Cecily. Education: Arizona State University, B.S., Chemistry, 1976; Arizona State University, Ph.D. in solid state chemistry, 1981.
Career: Chemist, technical and business expert. Product engineer, Motorola c. 1976; registered patent agent, Library of Congress, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office of the Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C., 1984-; process engineer, Hewlett-Packard; microelectronics section manager, Wiltron Company; thin films applications manager, Varian Associates; general manager of advanced technology operation in the Technology and Manufacturing Group, Intel Corp.; Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce, c. 1999; chairperson, BitArts, 2001-; chairman and CEO, Global Smarts, Inc., 2001-.
Memberships: U.S.-lsrael Science and Technology Commission (USISTC); Board of Directors, U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation; Co-chair, Technology Subcommittee under the U.S.-Egypt Partnership for Economic Growth; Technology Committee, U.S.-China Joint Management Committee, and the U.S.-Japan Joint High Level Committee.
Awards: inducted, International Network of Women in Technology Hall of Fame, June 1996; awarded honorary master’s degree in engineering management, California Polytechnic State University, 1996; selected, Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Leader, 1996; inducted, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, Arizona State University, 1997; Presenter of the Year, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, 1998; Henry Crown Fellow, Aspen Institute, 1998.
Addresses: Office —c/o Global Smarts, Inc., 3333 Bowers Avenue, Suite 130, Santa Clara, CA 95051.
Shavers was recruited on campus at Arizona State by Motorola, Inc. for a program that exposed recent graduates to the semiconductor industry. She took the job after earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1976 and worked at Motorola as a product engineer, specializing in discrete device applications. After she earned her Ph.D. in solid state chemistry from Arizona State in 1981, Shavers worked at Hewlett-Packard Co., which turned out to be a “turning point in her career,” according to Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News.
At Hewlett-Packard, Shavers worked as a process engineer. Her supervisor there was an extremely traditional man who chose customary methods over the innovative, production-increasing ones Shavers suggested. Frustrated, she transferred to Hewlett-Packard’s legal department as a patent agent, where she was bored by the monotony. It was at this point that Shavers considered leaving the semiconductor business altogether. She began to feel that she wasn’t being allowed to grow by old-fashioned bosses who were uncomfortable with women in technology. “I decided then that this was my career and I needed to own it,” she told the Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News.
Inspired, she strove to educate herself about every aspect of the semiconductor manufacturing business, and she left Hewlett-Packard. She went on to work for the Wiltron Company, a start-up, as a manager of its microelectronics section, and for Varian Associates, where she was thin films application manager. Finally, Shavers landed at Intel Corp., a major manufacturer of computer microprocessors. She moved swiftly up through the company. By knowing when to compete and when to collaborate with coworkers, she worked her way up to managing her own division. Working 55 hours a week probably didn’t hurt. She became the highest-ranking black woman at Intel Corp. and one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent female leaders. “Cheryl is smart, articulate, and driven,” Charlene Ellis, a vice president at Intel told the Arizona Republic. “If she walks into a closed door, she will figure out how to get another one open.”
Shavers shared the lessons she learned about successfully climbing the corporate ladder in a weekly column in the San Jose Mercury-News. In it, she gave career advice and answered such questions as how to deal with a younger boss and when to go back to school or change jobs. During the two-and-a-half years she wrote the column, Shaver formed her own five-point personal work code: 1.) no one owes her a living, 2.) she is realistic about her work environment and co-workers (“a bunch of nerds,” she told the Arizona Republic ), 3.) she does not allow her insecurities to influence her actions; she creates a plan to win, 4.) she values people for their accomplishments, and 5.) she takes risks. Shavers also is a valued speaker and is the author of several articles and other publications.
In 1999 President Bill Clinton named Shavers Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the position, Shavers was responsible for helping create federal science and technology policy and programs. She oversaw the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration and the Office of Technology Policy, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Technical Information Service, and the Office of Space Commercialization. She served as senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce in forming new policies and program initiatives in the areas of science and technology. She also was the Department of Commerce’s representative to the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on National Security, the Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology and the Committee on Technology, and helped coordinate the Clinton Administration’s Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles program. While at the Department of Commerce, Shavers was a member of the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission (USISTC) and Technology Subcommittee under the U.S.-Egypt Partnership for Economic Growth (co-chaired by Vice President Gore and President Mubarak). She also participated on the U.S.-South Africa Science and Technology Committee, U.S.-Russia Science and Technology Committee, U.S.-China Joint Management Committee, and the U.S.-Japan Joint High Level Committee.
In 2001, BitArts, a UK-based digital-security start-up company, hired Shavers as its chairperson. The company develops programs to protect software from piracy. Shavers believed the company would set new standards in the industry. Shavers is chairperson and CEO of Global Smarts, Inc. a “technology globalization enterprise that specializes in integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders,” according to her Website. She also hosts a radio show that addresses technological and societal issues.
Arizona Republic, May 30, 1999, p. D1.
Financial Times, February 28, 2001, p. 14.
Government Computer News, December 13, 1999, p. 6.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, July 8, 1996.
Rocky Mountain News, May 11, 2001, p. 3B.
Cheryl Shavers Homepage, http://www.cshavers.com (May 30, 2001).
Technology Administration Homepage, http://www.ta.gov (May 30, 2001).
Women in Technology International Homepage, http://www.witi.com (May 30, 2001).
CLAS Alumni Newsletter, http://clasdean.la.asu.edu/CLASNews/Fall97/Pgl4.jpg (July 19, 2001).
Dr. Shavers on the Radio, http://www.drshavers.com (August 3, 2001).
Additional information was provided by Dr. Shavers, 2001.
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