Holthaus earns Linfield alumni award

michelle_holthaus2Editor’s Note: Michelle Johnston Holthaus of Portland will be honored as the Linfield College Outstanding Young Alumna for her distinguishing work in the technology industry during Homecoming festivities Oct. 16 at Linfield.

McMINNVILLE – Just reading the resume of Michelle Johnston Holthaus is intimidating. All those abbreviations and technical terms: CPSD, channel strategy, OEM, RPG…

It is clear even to the uninitiated, however: she has had great success and responsibility at Intel Corp., the world’s largest computer-chip maker. A 1995 Linfield College graduate, Holthaus has been named the Linfield College Outstanding Young Alumna for her distinguishing work in the technology industry.

Holthaus joined Intel in 1996 as a program manager in Hillsboro. Since then, she has held a number of other positions, including product marketing engineer in the Outsource Equipment Manufacture platform solutions division and product line manager for desktop boards. As general manager of the Reseller Product Group, she led the boxed desktop and server business to record sales in 2004.

Since January, Holthaus has been general manager of the Channel Platforms and Strategy Division. “My group takes Intel hardware, boxes it in a retail package and distributes it globally,” she explained. The “channel” refers to computer builders that sell to smaller retailers.

“We talk with power supply vendors, motherboard vendors and others to make sure the right products are available when a new Intel product is launched,” Holthaus said. “My job is to make sure products are ready and relevant for customers.”

One of her proudest accomplishments was receiving an Intel Achievement Award for managing a program to take back or replace a faulty chip. Less than 1 percent of employees win it each year. Last year, VARBusiness magazine named Holthaus one of the 50 most powerful women in the channel.

The Dundee native had planned to attend college farther from home, but changed her mind a few days before school started. “Maybe it just felt like home,” she said, insisting she got no pressure from her parents, Ron Johnston ’68 and Kathryn (DeVore) Johnston ’69. Twins followed their sister to Linfield: Marquilyn Shields ’98 and Nicole Johnston ’98.

Holthaus said her career in technical marketing is unrelated to her finance major. Still, Linfield prepared her for this role, she said. Holthaus, who serves on Linfield’s Business Advisory Council, noted there are many successful Linfield alumni at Intel.

“We have good problem-solving skills,” she said. “Linfield’s interactive classes and group projects teach you how to work with peers.”

Linfield’s international opportunities also set her apart, she added. “The thing that probably jumped out the most on my resume was the fact I had done a January term business strategies course in Europe and had studied in Thailand and Malaysia. Many more students have that today, but my potential boss was really surprised by that at the time.”

Outside of work, Holthaus said she once was an avid horseback rider but has no time for it now. She devotes her scarce free time to a close-knit group of friends and her family: husband Bob and sons, Cole, 6, and Jack, 3.