Olatunde “Ola” Gbolahan
Manager, Finance Process & Systems
Education: MBA, finance, San Francisco State University; BS, computer engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Company Name: AMD (Advanced Micro Devices)
Company CEO: Dr. Lisa Su
Company Headquarters Location: Santa Clara, California
Number of Employees: 12,000
Your Location (if different from above): Austin, Texas
Words you live by: Don’t just talk, act. Don’t just say, show. Don’t just promise, do.
Who is your personal hero? My mom
What book are you reading? Discovering the Mission of God: Best Missional Practices for the 21st Century by Mike Barnett (Editor), Robin Martin (Editor); Leadershift : The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace by John C. Maxwell; and Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison
What was your first job: Installing and repairing sewer line
Favorite charity: Black Outside, Inc and Outdoor Afro
Interests: Beekeeping, and anything outdoors (backpacking, fishing, hunting, hiking, etc.)
Family: Wife, Naphtalie, and two Daughters, Gabrielle & Kayla
Wisdom and Knowledge Are Useless Unless They Are Shared
I’ve always had a curiosity about the things around me. Some of my earliest memories are of taking things apart to better understand how they worked. While other kids were playing with their transformers, I was wondering where the screws that held them together were hiding. I was disassembling these toys to see if I could reassemble them with improvements to the design. I would watch those around me to learn everything they had to teach me. Everything and everyone has a story to tell if you just know where to look or what to ask.
I was raised by a single mother, my personal hero, who taught me, my two brothers, and my sister the value of hard work and self-sufficiency. Because she often worked two jobs to make ends meet, she taught us how to take care of important things on our own. I remember when I was about eight years old, my mom taught me how to schedule my own doctor’s appointment. My mom was great about telling me where to get answers instead of giving me the answers because she knew that she couldn’t always be there.
My thirst for learning led me to places that many others like me did not go. I spent time in my youth with outdoor clubs, learning about nature, and what backpacking through the Georgia Mountains entailed. I spent time in labs, learning about computers and programming languages, and how they were used to make the video games I enjoyed. My desire to leave things better off led me to mentor and teach others. Wisdom and knowledge are useless unless they are shared.
As one of the current leaders of AMD’s African American Employee Resource Groups, I’ve worked with others to be the voice of African American and other minority employees. As a founding board member of Black Outside, Inc, I have been fortunate enough to help drive the organization’s mission to reconnect Black/African-American youth with the outdoors through culturally relevant programming, and for connecting youth to the powerful history of Black people in the outdoors. I am an Austin, Texas, leader for Outdoor Afro, a national nonprofit network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing hundreds of African Americans in my community to new experiences in nature.
In both my personal and professional life, I strive to stay curious and to listen, look, and learn—not just for learning’s sake, but to pass along that knowledge or be the voice of those who cannot or will not speak for themselves.