Spotlight on Leading Women in Telecoms | TelecomDrive.com
For Azita Arvani, professional success means driving towards a fulfilling goal and enjoying the collaboration with people. While working with different organizations such as Nokia, Docomo, Xerox, and Upek, she always leveraged new technology and innovation to shape the future.
As part of Disruptive Telecoms July 2022 cover story on ‘Leading Women in Telecoms’ – Azita Arvani, General Manager of Rakuten Symphony Americas speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about her professional and personal journey.
How has been your professional journey so far? Please tell us about your various job profiles?
I started off my career as a computer scientist, soon asked to run a software development team. I was fast-tracked into Chief of Staff for Corporate R&D, where I leveraged my technical background to drive technology innovations from the R&D labs to the market. Then, I joined a pioneering mobile video Silicon Valley startup at the height of 2G era. I saw the future was in mobile and in video.
I have worked with many venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies such as Nokia, Docomo, Xerox, and Upek (now part of Apple), and now with Rakuten. The common thread among all my career moves has been around leveraging state of the art technologies to shape the future.
What is the meaning of success to you, how important it is for you? and what is your mantra to succeed in an organisation?
Professional success for me is driving towards a fulfilling goal, being excited about it, and enjoying the collaboration with people. For me, this involves leveraging new technology and innovation to shape the future, with a great team in a fast-paced environment.
My mantra to succeed in an organization is to be creative, learn fast, move quickly, be open to diverse ideas and cultivate a collaborative work culture.
According to you what are some of the most critical factors that have helped you become a leader in your organisation?
It is vital to get input from multiple sources and give opportunities for my team to express their opinions on a topic. I stay curious to try and understand how people think – the process they use to come up with decisions. I seek opportunities to educate myself by learning from the industry thought leaders. I also push myself not to get comfortable and be sure I’m reaching outside of my existing circle to continually expand my network.
When you look back in your career – what according to you can be termed as big turning points for you. How have these turning points helped you gain ground professionally?
As I reflect on my career, there were several turning points. Choosing computer science as a major has channeled my passion for math into software field that has hugely impacted the world.
My experience working with innovations across many fields at Palo Alto Research Center has expanded my horizon of what is possible.
Leaving a cushy corporate job to join a Silicon Valley startup in mobile video back in 2G networks was a life-shaping experience.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate the complementary nature between power of scale at established companies and power of speed at startups.
What are some of the challenges that you faced and overcome during your professional journey? How did you overcome these challenges?
Telecommunication sales is a very complex and prolonged cycle. For this reason, introducing innovation in telecom has been more challenging than I’ve experienced with traditional software businesses. For me, this is a big opportunity to minimize friction for telecom startups, which I have worked on in different parts of the ecosystem.
I’ve always been a big proponent of diversity in the workplace, and I hope to foster more diversity in the telecom sector. Bringing diverse people, mindsets and life experiences together will continue to drive innovation in telecom, such as Open RAN and cloud native architecture.
This is an exciting time in the industry, and I’ve found it very rewarding to be on the cutting edge. It takes time for big, new ideas to catch on, but when they do, you will see the positive impact of new tech in people’s lives, it makes all the hard work and long days totally worth it.
Please share with us some of your positive learnings that you have gained over the past many years and how these learnings have helped you become a better person / professional?
A few things come to mind:
We need to be laser focused on achieving the goals of the organization. When managing our to-do’s or our calendar, we need to think about the results and impact on moving the goal of the organization forward.
We should not take things too personally at work. This is not about me or any individual team member. We need to do our best and act boldly to achieve the best outcome. However, things may not work out and that is OK. This has helped me to do my job with confidence and make bold business decisions.
I work in high-tech fields, so it is very important to take the time to educate myself, to understand and learn about new technologies and stay ahead of business and market trends.
We work in a hyper global world. So, we need to be well-informed of different cultures and how to be most collaborative and productive in a multi-cultural work setting.
With greater level of experience comes greater level of responsibility and often this also involves grooming others, passing on your legacy ahead. Keeping this in mind, how do you look at helping others in your organization towards achieving success?
One should always think about one’s legacy. Early in your career, you over-index on personal achievement. And as you move up the corporate ladder, you should help others climb up the ladder too.
I strive to develop the next generation of talent, mentoring, and creating opportunities for others. It gives me great joy to identify an individual’s hidden strengths and help them flourish in their career.
What are some of your big goals that you have achieved in the recent past – and your goals that you want to achieve?
I was the first hire in Rakuten Symphony in the Americas. In just a couple of years, we have built an amazing organization that serves operators, enterprises and governments across the US, Canada, and Latin America with thriving customers.
I also strive to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the telecom industry.
Azita Arvani | All About Integrity, Family and Friends
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I consider myself an innovative, energetic, and creative person, always striving for excellence in everything I do. Working in a high-tech, fast-paced environment, these qualities have served me well, which I can carry over from my professional to my personal life.
What are the three top most important things for you in your personal life?
Integrity, family and friends, and being of service for others.
Please share with us some of your personal milestones and their contributions towards developing your personality?
Starting my own consulting firm shaped me to never be afraid to step out of my comfort zone and do the kind of work I have not done before or reach out to people outside of my circle to make things work.
How do you see yourself evolve as a person over the past years and where do you see yourself in the coming years?
I’d like to reflect back and examine my work and life skills. Based on that, I’d work to accentuate the positive and improve on things that could be done better.
I’m also always in search of better ways of collaborating across international teams towards a fulfilling mission.
I’d love to continue to mentor women leaders and encourage more women to be in the tech field.
What are your three qualities that have helped you grow as a person and a professional?
Constant learning through reading, working with top industry leaders, and picking exciting initiatives to work on have helped me grow as a person. My can-do attitude and hard work have helped me grow as a professional.
Please share with us some of your hobbies and interests?
Outside of work, I really enjoy being active, hiking, traveling, and learning about different cultures.
Please tell us something about your family? How has been their support in terms of helping you grow professionally?
My family has been very supportive of my hard work for my professional endeavors. They have endured many sacrifices in order to support me achieve my goals.
This is published as part of cover story on ‘Leading Women in Telecoms’ inside July 2022 issue of Disruptive Telecoms