AMD appoints Rajan Naik as master strategist

Notwithstanding the fact that AMD needs a strategist of Sun Tzu’s calibre to guide it through the upcoming storm, AMD has picked up Rajan Naik, a veteran engineer-slash-partner hailing from McKinsey & Co. who did a stint at Intel Corporation and Lucent Technologies.

Naik, now officially Senior Veep and Chief Strategy Officer at AMD, has the unenviable task of turning the company around and making good on delivering technically superior and competitive products while holding, what some believe to be, a ticking time bomb.

There has been a mix-and-match of results for the company recently. Take your pick: an ailing partnership with its former manufacturing arm, GlobalFoundries, strained by poor technical results, its graphics branch successfully outmanoeuvring Nvidia and a rather disappointing launch for Bulldozer. It will leave the master strategist enough to worry about for the forthcoming years.

However, Naik’s experience revolves around precisely what AMD needs most – product development and marketing. Together with the recently appointed Mark Papermaster, AMD’s new dynamic duo has its job cut out for it.

Hailing from McKinsey and Co., Naik is used to driving results. His former employer’s policy was that partners are either upwardly mobile or out the door. Considering AMD’s current situation, trimming fat and making lean are the words of the day, at least until new technology has appeared.

Some five years ago, AMD plotted a course that only recently has delivered products under the banner Bulldozer, which itself has several ticks and tocks to follow (Piledriver being the next).

Bulldozer’s current lacklustre performance – many times compared to Intel’s Netbust snafu – has two more incarnations to play itself out. Until then it’s up Naik and Papermaster to steer AMD clear of trouble.

For AMD’s sake, he’d better be good at his job.