The departing VMware CEO opens up on how he came to decide on the move to Intel.

Last month, Intel announced that its board of directors had appointed 40-year technology industry leader Pat Gelsinger as its new chief executive officer, effective Feb. 15, 2021.

Gelsinger was also tapped to join the Intel board of directors upon assuming the role. He will succeed Bob Swan, who will remain CEO until Gelsinger takes the helm officially on Feb. 15.

This week Gelsinger discussed his journey and why he made the switch from VMware to Intel. The veteran tech exec appeared on the Virtually Speaking Podcast to share his story.

Going back to where he started

Gelsinger had previously worked at Intel for 30 years in various roles, including serving as the chipmaker’s CTO. In the interview, he said that it will be a “privilege and honor” to return to Intel to serve as its leader after having started his tech career there.

In the podcast episode, which the producers called “A Chat with Pat,” Gelsinger said he decided to return to Intel partly in order to have the chance to lead one of the “great turnarounds” in tech. 

Indeed, Gelsinger’s return is seen as a chance for Intel to reverse its recent trend of poor economic performance and production delays. Gelsinger brings with him an intimate knowledge of the firm gleaned from his decades of having worked there. He also brings with him a refreshed and revised technical background and new experience taken from his role as VMware’s chief exec.

It all happened with a conversation that “flipped”

Gelsinger said he was initially in talks to join Intel’s board of directors. That conversation “flipped” just before Christmas, he said, and the subject of a CEO role came up suddenly.

“Things had happened very rapidly and now it’s ‘OK, the company had stumbled, can we create one of the great turnarounds for this great technology company?'” Gelsinger told the podcasters.

“Yeah, I think I can play a part in that and the board was entirely united in calling me to the roll,” he added.