My interest in data networking was piqued in my undergraduate years after taking a Data Communications course taught by a US-educated professor in my college in India. My first job after graduation was at a computer manufacturing company. In this job, I was introduced to Linux and computer networking using LAN which, back in the day, was still a nascent networking technology. This experience further solidified my determination to seek my Masters in the United States with a focus on networking and telecommunications.
Luckily, I was accepted with scholarship to the University of Missouri- Kansas City which had a special Computer Science Telecommunications Program (CSTP). Here, I became fascinated with cellular technologies and decided to focus my research on everything cellular. My focus paid off when my research won the Best Thesis award and I was hired at GTE Laboratories. I soon began contributing to the very standards that I had researched as a graduate student. When it came to implementing products based on those standards, I learnt that you could still innovate to create specific extensions to differentiate your product offering. Some of my 20 patents bear witness to this.
I joined Verizon Wireless at an exciting time, when they had just launched 3G technologies, to lead the technical solution design for bringing 3G data to prepaid data plans. This was my first “real-world” experience outside of the research bubble. At Verizon, the decisions and contributions I would make impacted a commercial network and millions of subscribers. This was a huge learning experience and a trial-by-fire exercise for me in working with changing business requirements, budgets of millions of dollars, multiple network equipment suppliers and a variety of functional teams to launch a service. After this tough initiation and smooth product launch, I was tasked with being the solution architect and lead for several other high priority product introductions at Verizon from Wi-Fi roaming, Wi-Fi and Cellular convergence, small cells, home portfolio of connected devices, to introduction of 4G LTE network policy.
One of the achievements that I am quite proud of is making available a solution that provides rapid cellular coverage for use in emergencies at remote locations using satellite communications. This solution that I helped create not only serves as the communication lifeline for fire fighters, search and rescue, and other first responders, but also because there were quite a few naysayers within Verizon that were confident that it could not be done. I started small with emulations, prototypes and field trials to get buy-in. I am, therefore, a huge proponent of experiments and functional prototypes which has now become the cornerstone of Lean Startup practices.
I have had several roles from strategic planning, product marketing, operations management, new product development, product management, device certification lab management, and most recently, in innovation. The innovation role allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and realize proof-of-concepts in fields like Augmented Reality, Computer Vision, Software Defined Networks, etc. Providing technical consulting with respect to testing and certification of IoT devices is also one of the things that my team and I do. I am a passionate technologist and tinkerer around electronics and web technologies in my spare time.
Cool technology is of no use unless it creates value that customers are willing to pay for. With my technical, product and business acumen I can guide startups to experiment and find the right product-market fit, evaluate their solution’s technical merit and recommend strategies to scale their services.