Lisa Su

Lisa Su
Bower Award for Business Leadership

AMD | Austin, Texas


For her transformational leadership of AMD, a leader in high-performance and adaptive computing and one of the fastest growing semiconductor companies in the world. As an accomplished engineer and champion for diversity and women in tech, Dr. Su’s bold vision to deliver the next generation of computing and AI solutions has led to AMD becoming one of the industry’s most influential companies.

Not many electrical engineers rise to become the CEO of a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 company. Even fewer have led such a remarkable turnaround. Yet Lisa Su has done both, turning the venerable American semiconductor firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) from a stock price of $3 a share into a major player and competitor at the frontiers of microelectronics and high-performance computing. Since becoming CEO in 2014, AMD’s market cap has increased by more than 5,000 percent.  

Lisa Su joined AMD in 2012 as a senior vice president and general manager of global business units after having served in senior management roles in other technology companies for more than 15 years. Yet despite her extensive business and engineering experience, including being AMD chief operating officer, she faced a challenging moment on becoming CEO. With the company’s revenue dropping and the workforce contracting, observers both inside and outside of the semiconductor industry deemed AMD to be in a precipitous decline. 

Undaunted, Su laid the groundwork for a renaissance. In her first weeks, she set about focusing the company on the significant opportunities ahead. She visited company facilities to host a series of town hall meetings to collect ideas, hear suggestions, and address anxieties. Su developed a simple three-point plan to bring the company back: create great products, deepen customer trust, and simplify the firm’s operations. These concepts kept efforts on track as AMD worked to regain its edge and, again, become competitive against its main rivals. 

At the same time, the semiconductor and computer industries were undergoing massive upheavals, with consumers rapidly shifting from desktop and laptop PCs to smartphones, gaming consoles, and portable devices. Commercial users were demanding more powerful chips and processors to run their ever-increasing server, data center, and cloud computing facilities. Given her engineering background, Su well appreciated these market dynamics and the technological innovations they would require, and she focused AMD on the emerging technologies and demands. She developed a new architecture for AMD chips called Zen that increased chip speed and efficiency and set forward a plan to convince corporate clients of its value.  

As a result, AMD came to reassert itself and claim industry leadership in high-performance computing. Today, its newly-developed Ryzen desktop processors and EPYC server processors, both based on the Zen chip architecture, outstrip competitors’ products in performance and efficiency. Its stock price has soared well over $100 per share and by 2023 AMD’s market value had surpassed that of Intel, its closest competitor, for the first time. Su had achieved what few believed was possible: AMD was not only back, it was back on top. 

It was quite an accomplishment for someone who, earlier in life, had seemed destined for a distinguished yet largely technical career path. Born in Taiwan, Su immigrated to the United States at age three with her family. Her interest in science, math, and engineering while growing up in New York was strongly encouraged by her parents, who bought Su her first computer in junior high school. She attended the Bronx High School of Science and then went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering. After graduation, she worked first at Texas Instruments and then moved to IBM as a researcher. She eventually became technical assistant to IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, a position that gave her a close-in understanding of the inner workings of the business, and she later rose to her first management-level positions at IBM. After 13 years, she moved on to senior management roles at Freescale Semiconductor for several years before settling in at AMD in 2012. 

Su’s business accomplishments in turning around AMD and her achievements as an engineer and researcher have brought her numerous honors and accolades. She is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the first woman to receive the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal. She was named one of Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2017, named one of Barron’s World’s Best CEOs in 2019, and designated #2 on Fortune’s Business Person of the Year list in 2020. She was appointed to President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2021. In 2022, MIT named its new nanotechnology center in her honor.  

Lisa Su is not resting on any of her many laurels, however. She continues to expand AMD’s capacities in the burgeoning fields of artificial intelligence and supercomputing. She intends to leverage AMD’s long history of technical experience to challenge the company’s competitors in every sector of the microprocessor market while continually enhancing AMD’s current products and developing new ones. With her unique combination of keen business acumen and sophisticated engineering knowledge she couldn’t be in a better place to do so.