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State University of Campinas (Unicamp), late 1980s. A student in the Electrical Engineering course challenges a professor, known for calling for oral surprise tests. The young student, knowing the difficulties of the subject and the master’s provocations, “devoured” the books. He studied everything hard. And a beautiful day was called for the test, two questions, each worth 50% of the grade. In the first question, success. In the second, another correct answer. The apparent victory was celebrated with a mischievous smile, as provocative as the teacher’s intention. It was enough for that verbal test to exceptionally change its format and win a third question. A difficult question, which was not in the books. It wasn’t even part of the course. The student’s argument was obvious: “But, professor, this is not in the material!”. The teacher’s rejoinder was overwhelming: “Aren’t you? But what a damn engineer are you going to be if you only study what’s in the material? ”

Cristiano Amon, that insightful student, reported the episode three decades later, in November 2019, when he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from Unicamp. He was the 29th scientist to receive the honor in 53 years. The only one in the technological area. “Not only did I learn fundamental things that were very useful in my career, but I learned to think,” said the engineer, in his speech. His apprenticeship led him to follow a path of success, which now leads him to command one of the largest technology companies in the world: Qualcomm.

At 50, Amon was unanimously chosen this week by the board of directors of the telecommunications giant to be its new global CEO. He takes office on June 30, replacing Steve Mollenkopf, who is retiring. The company, founded in 1985, produces high-tech smartphone chips and components. It is one of the global leaders in the sector. Companies like Motorola, LG and Nokia use Qualcomm chips. That is why the challenge is as big as the size of the company.

On Wednesday (6), the company Amon will chair was valued at Nasdaq at $ 171 billion. Or R $ 911 billion. It is almost double that of Vale, the largest company listed on B3 (R $ 491.5 billion) and more than two Petrobras, with a market value of around R $ 394.5 billion. In fiscal year 2020, which ended in September, Qualcomm’s turnover was $ 23.5 billion. From March to December last year, the company’s shares grew 150%, from US $ 60.91 (close to the average recorded in previous years) to US $ 152.43. By the figures and the global context, the engineer Cristiano Amon will be the main Brazilian executive in the business world.

He also worked at Vésper, NEC, Ericsson and Velocom, he joined Qualcomm in 1995. At the American giant, he held various technical and commercial leadership positions. Since January 2018, he has been the company’s president – a position below that of global CEO. Led the development of the company’s 5G strategy, including its acceleration, technology roadmap and global implementation. It also boosted business diversification beyond mobile devices and into new industry segments, such as automotive systems, RF Front-End (radio receiver circuit) and IoT. “We have been at the forefront of innovation for decades and I look forward to maintaining this position in the future,” said the executive, in a note. “I look forward to working with our 41,000 employees around the world to create technologies that revolutionize the way people live, work and connect,” he said. Among his most famous stories in the corporate environment is a legal dispute with Apple over patent issues. The companies reached an agreement, the conditions of which were not disclosed. The engineer also brings in his curriculum the attempt to open a factory in Brazil in 2019, a project that ended up shelved.

Steve Mollenkopf, who started the process of passing the baton to Cristiano Amon, praised the Brazilian. “With our business model clearly validated and our leadership in 5G, this is the right time for Cristiano to take over the leadership of the company and preside over what I see as the greatest opportunity in the company’s history,” he said, also in a note.


Beto Silva, from Isto É Dinheiro. Published on 08/01/2021.

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