Qualcomm CEO to speak at commencement

Photo: Qualcomm CEO and UC Berkeley alumnus Paul Jacobs will be speaking at this year's commencement.
Jessica Jacobs/Courtesy
Qualcomm CEO and UC Berkeley alumnus Paul Jacobs will be speaking at this year's commencement.

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Commencement organizers announced to graduating seniors last week that Qualcomm CEO and chair of board of directors Paul Jacobs will deliver the commencement convocation speech to the class of 2011 at the May 14 ceremony.

Paul Jacobs - who received his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D degrees from UC Berkeley - was placed on a ballot by the student group in charge of organizing the ceremony, the Californians, which was submitted to graduating seniors at the beginning of last semester to be voted on. Tomoaki Sasaki, overall student director of Californians, said Paul Jacobs was placed on the ballot because he is an entrepreneur and because students are now interested in how to start their own business and maintain that business.

"I'm sure that, after having graduated from Berkeley, three different times in fact, my dad is honored to speak at the graduation of another generation," said Jessica Jacobs, daughter of Paul Jacobs and freshman at New York University. "He loves your school so much, and it's cool to hear that he can continue to give back after they have given him so much."

Paul Jacobs' company, Qualcomm, is an industry leader in the field of mobile communications and, for more than 20 years, Paul Jacobs has been at the helm, making decisions about oversight, initiatives and operations.

After receiving his Ph.D. in engineering from UC Berkeley in 1989, Jacobs joined Qualcomm as a development engineer leading the mobile phone digital processor software team. He steadily progressed through the organization, and in 2005 he became the CEO. In 2009 he was named chairman of the company.

He was the keynote speaker for the campus College of Engineering's graduating class in 2006. At that time he told students to "consider the lessons they didn't know they learned at Berkeley."

Paul Jacobs said during his speech that because the world changes so fast, his company does not follow a 10-year strategic plan. However, he emphasizes the need to remain in a position where decisions can be made quickly.

"The fundamental values are to be flexible, be opportunistic, to innovate, to execute," he said in his speech. "There's things that you want to do right, and there are things that you want to do right away."

Some seniors expressed an interest in asking him about the business strategies he has employed that allow his company to remain successful.

"What students are looking for changes over time," Sasaki said. "Back then, two years ago, people wanted celebrities. I am curious about how entrepreneurs start off. He has a similar experience as Cal students."

Graduating senior and molecular and cellular biology major Rachel Davis said she is excited about graduation and concerned about her future. Having Paul Jacobs as speaker will hopefully answer some of her questions about owning her own business, she said.

"It is exciting to have people who have graduated from Berkeley and built something for themselves (speak)," Davis said. "As a science major, that is something I want to do in my field and leave a legacy of my own."


Contact Theresa Adams at [email protected]

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