Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Sean Maloney: The Man Who Could Have Led Intel

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 19, 2013

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Sean Maloney (above) spent nearly three decades being groomed for Intel's top job then he suffered a devastating stroke. Here's his remarkable story of recovery.

By Intel Free Press

On the car ride home from the hospital after suffering a stroke in February 2010, Intel executive Sean Maloney insisted that his wife take him to his boat. With little use of his right arm, he could only row in circles, but he was nonetheless determined to prove wrong his doctor's prognosis that he'd never row his scull again.

The same drive that got him back into his boat enabled him to re-learn how to speak and ultimately return to work to become chairman of Intel China, leading the company's largest market.

In a new short documentary, "Anatomy of a Comeback: The Sean Maloney Story," Maloney's family members, colleagues, doctors and experts describe in detail the impact of the 2010 stroke, his unrelenting motivation to recover and the grueling work that has helped him regain his speech.

"It's remarkable how he trained the right side of his brain to allow him to speak again," said the film's creator, Bill Welter of Clarity Creative Group. Welter has known Maloney for more than 15 years, during which time he helped him develop keynote speeches and video for major industry trade shows and other events.

Maloney built a reputation for being a master communicator and a problem solver who invigorates business groups. Until the stroke he was considered by many a potential candidate to succeed Paul Otellini as Intel CEO. Maloney retired from Intel in January 2013.

Family members and colleagues who appear in the documentary never doubted that Maloney would regain the ability to speak.

"His aim to return to the way he was is something that is beyond what mere mortals normally do," said Otellini in the video. "The things that I admired and resonated in him his whole life were very critical to his recovery. This man has incredible focus, and the desire and passion to win that is second to none."

Maloney wanted to credit his family and those who helped him in the recovery process, and warn others about the risk of stroke. "He felt strongly that if he would've had the checkup he could've prevented the stroke," said Welter.

"Know the risk factors, get yourself checked out," said Maloney in the video. "Every situation is different,  but in my case it's pretty clear that if I had a carotid artery ultrasound done the few months before my stroke it would have been preventable."

In the film, Maloney offers two rules: "Never have a stroke and never understate the value of an investment, especially in yourself."

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