Rituparna Mandal | Leading with Passion for Excellence


Spotlight on Leading Women in Telecoms | TelecomDrive.com

With over 25 years of rich experience, from working with Texas Instruments during early days of her career to starting her own venture in the form of Immensa Semiconductors in 2013 (later acquired by MediaTek), Rituparna Mandal has always been a leader with a unique passion for excellence and perseverance.

As part of Disruptive Telecoms July 2022 cover story on ‘Leading Women in Telecoms’ Rituparna Mandal, GM, MediaTek Bangalore speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about her professional and personal journey.

According to you what are some of the most critical factors that have helped you become a leader in your organisation?

As a woman entrepreneur and in my role as a senior leader, I have taken forward several key responsibilities. Semiconductors have been a male-dominated industry, fulfilling a leadership role in such a scenario demands hard-core commitment, passion for excellence and perseverance. You need to prove that you can fight all odds to work on challenging projects and deliver the result on time. All through the projects, I have followed a systematic approach so I could deliver my best and meet deadlines. I believe I have an inherent strength to absorb the challenges and maintain a composed state of mind in stressful situations.

Leading a team is a great responsibility and with a passion towards innovation, I have always been keen to take up innovative projects, assume ownership, and strive to deliver the best results.  I have learned to adapt to changes quickly and never take anything for granted. The core values driving my success have been transparency, integrity and accountability in every role I take up.

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?

The most significant turning point in my career life was the launch of my start-up company Immensa Semiconductors in 2013. It was the culmination of my aspiration to do something that is really challenging. In fact, I started the company after working a long 16 years at Texas Instruments, which helped me gain hands-on experience on SoCs and get an insight into where the semiconductor industry is heading. The learning I acquired during that period gave me the confidence to build my first semiconductor company, which for sure, would be atypical for a woman of my cadre. Later, when Immensa was acquired by MediaTek, I became part of MediaTek with greater responsibilities and with much bigger projects to handle. In fact, MediaTek opened the big world of semiconductors in front of me and set the path ready to pursue my passion. Throughout my career, I have been keen to learn new things and refresh my skills so that I can stay updated in the rapidly evolving industry environment.

What are some of the challenges that you faced and overcome during your professional journey? How did you overcome these challenges?

Challenges are multi-fold. Semiconductor technology is perhaps the most complex of all the technologies. Look at the transformation that swept the industry in recent years. The process nodes evolved from 130 nm in 2001 to 3 nm in 2022, in just a span of 20 years, and still on. With regard to communications technologies, we are now witnessing the momentous transition from 4G to 5G and to 6G and higher. While major markets like India are talking about moving to 5G, a few advanced nations have already started testing 6G. The same is the case with digital technologies. The rapid developments around AI, IoT, Edge, AR/VR and related technologies have impacted the semiconductor segment significantly, reducing the technology lifecycle, thus creating immense pressure on chip designing firms like MediaTek.

The challenge is to cope with this rapid transformation and drive the team to accomplish the target in this highly competitive environment. Thanks to MediaTek’s R&D focus, we are able to hire enough talent and allocate resources to drive this journey forward. As a result, we are ahead of the race with several ground-breaking innovations which have hit the market in recent months. Examples are the Dimensity 5G series of chips, with the latest Dimensity 9000 featuring the world’s first 4nm process on smartphones. We are also at the forefront of 5G technology and millimetre wave advancements. Of late we have released the first mmWave 5G chipset Dimensity 1050 that will power the next generation of 5G smartphones with seamless connectivity, displays, gaming and power efficiency.

As a woman entrepreneur and professional, I have confronted another set of challenges, especially during my early career life when I had to also manage my family with two young boys. I believe it is the responsibility of every organization to be compassionate with every mother and provide her with appropriate facilities to accomplish her career goals. At MediaTek, we have been practicing the WFH model to help expecting and young mothers. Thus I can say MediaTek is a women-friendly organization; we have women roles at every level, including the top managers.

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?

Constant learning. And always being motivated by challenges: Given the fast-paced technology cycle, it is important to hone your technical and leadership skills from time to time so that you can deal with the emerging challenges. I am happy to say that I am still a student, learning new things by reading books, magazines and online stuff, as well as from interpersonal interactions and motivational speeches.  And I believe knowledge earns respect everywhere.

Second, understanding the team and focusing on teamwork: Workplaces are very dynamic. We meet people of different age groups and cultures/educational backgrounds. Maintaining harmony and team spirit is the first and foremost priority for a manager, and this demands extraordinary efforts.  Over the years, I have learned how to inspire the team to achieve their target. The binding philosophy is to remain compassionate and friendly, and I hope I succeed in doing that to a great extent.

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?

The workforce is the most valuable asset for any organization. Retaining the talent is important as it can build loyalty and enhance productivity. Equally important are the upskilling and reskilling efforts as both can add value to the resources. We have taken up several such initiatives wherein the participants get the opportunity to learn the latest technologies and also build soft skills.  We also engage with external agencies and occasionally partner with third-party vendors to conduct special training, especially in the hardware segment. Also, there are special training programs designed for managers/future managers, which largely focus on building organizational values and leadership qualities. These apart, we conduct regular meetings and one-on-one sessions with each employee to understand his/her issues. Such interactions also help us understand the loopholes and fix them before they impact productivity.

What are some of your big goals that you have achieved in the recent past – and your goals that you want to achieve?

Over the past few years, the team at Bengaluru has contributed several major breakthroughs to our portfolio of SoCs.   The Chromebook SoC, for example, was built from scratch at the Bengaluru centre. Most recently we also accomplished several high-level targets related to the latest Dimensity 5G series of chipsets.

At present we are working on 5G and millimetre wave technologies with a focus on vast variety of applications in IoT, Edge and AI. Some of the ongoing projects focus on automobile IoT and neuro pilot programs. We have even bigger projects in pipeline, and we expect the Bengaluru R&D centre will emerge as the hub of chip innovation in India in the near future. There has to be a big picture in very decision that is taken when organisational growth or managing performance and understanding employee sentiment. Therefore it is the ability to fine-tune, rethink and focus, take ownership and strive to outperform.

How has been your professional journey so far? Please tell us about your various job profiles.

My professional journey so far has been enriching and extremely enjoyable. Over the course of 25 years, I have essayed various roles in the technology sector, from Texas Instruments, where I was the manager for foundation IP development and handled teams of over 100 to my current stint as General Manager at MediaTek. In 2013, I launched Immensa Semiconductors and created a foundation IP portfolio in leading-edge technologies across top foundries. MediaTek acquired Immensa in 2015 and I joined the company as Director, Advanced CPU and Foundation IP technology. Over the last 7 years, I have worked on accelerating my career at MediaTek while contributing to the vision and mission of the company.

What is the meaning of success to you, how important it is for you? And what is your mantra to succeed in an organisation?

Success is a very personal metric when one spends 25 years in an industry. While the meaning and connotations can change from time to time, success has always been a focus area for me. From my childhood, I have always attempted to deliver my utmost best in whatever I take up, and the satisfaction which comes from giving one’s best is what defines success in my eyes. If I am able to consistently perform in line with my capabilities, I believe I have succeeded in my endeavour. The same holds true when it comes to succeeding in an organisation. There is no point to competing with someone else to succeed at the workplace – my effort has always been towards bettering myself and remaining committed to the goals of my organisation – and this has helped me attain satisfaction in all walks of life. Persistence and a continued drive to excel have been my mantras for success.

Rituparna Mandal | Persistent, Focused and Instinctive

How would you describe yourself as a person?

As a person, I have always been focused, driven, persistent, instinctive and adaptable. These attributes have helped me stay rooted in a fast-paced sector while doing my best to create a niche for myself. Gratitude is another attribute I value in myself and I am very grateful for the opportunities I have received in my life and career.

What are the three topmost important things for you in your personal life?

Spending time with family, traveling and doing things together.

Spending time with oneself, I love art in all forms, read and write.

Staying healthy and connected with people who are important to us.

Please share with us some of your personal milestones and their contributions towards developing your personality.

As a child, I was always one of the toppers in class. I have always been hungry to be the best in everything I do and this has helped develop my personality while focusing on bettering myself rather than competing with others. My parents taught me to always give my 100% to everything I do, never have any regrets, and never pick the easy option. These life lessons have played a major role in developing my personality, both as an individual and as a leader. My stint as the head girl at school and class representative in college instilled in me discipline and leadership and these lessons have stayed with me throughout.

How do you see yourself evolve as a person over the past years and where do you see yourself in the coming years?

I would like to continue learning and creating value. Technology will continue to redefine the society in various ways and it is up to us to have the determination and ability to influence and create a positive impact.

What are your three qualities that have helped you grow as a person and a professional?

Persistence, adaptability, and a thirst for constant learning are the three qualities which have enabled me to grow in both, my personal and professional life.

Please share with us some of your hobbies and interests.

My hobbies revolve around nature and greenery. We have a beautiful garden at home and I enjoy tending to the plants while distressing. I also practice yoga and meditation to stay calm. My interests have become increasingly aligned with helping others, especially since the pandemic, and I try my best to help in whatever way I can, whoever I can. During the pandemic, I was involved in supporting the migrant working population with funds and organizing open kitchens and sponsoring PPE kits and materials for health workers. I also take interest in fostering stray animals in our vicinity as no act of kindness is too small.

Please tell us something about your family. How has been their support in terms of helping you grow professionally?

My father, who was the first engineering graduate from his village, is my hero and inspiration. My mother, who wished to see her daughter as the first woman engineer in the family, drove me to pursue engineering and follow my passion whole-heartedly. My parents have played a huge role in fostering my professional growth. Post marriage, my husband and sons have also been very supportive of my career and, as a household, we share all our responsibilities to ensure that no one is too burdened to follow their dreams or pursue their ambitions.