Tomorrow is International Women’s Day (IWD) and Mahsa Nakhjiri, Director of Product Development, Connected Infrastructure, at HARMAN International, answers some questions about being a women in the electronics industry.
She has over two decades of experience in the wireless technology and connectivity segments. In her role she oversees the company’s product management initiatives in the Roadside Units (RSU), Edge Computing services and applications for automotive, leveraging her expertise in emerging technologies including 5G, Edge Computing, MEC4Auto, C-V2X.
Can you tell us a little about what you do now, and how you got where you are?
I oversee strategic partnership and product management initiatives in the RSU-Roadside Units, Edge Computing services and applications for automotive, leveraging my expertise in emerging technologies including 5G, Edge Computing, and C-V2X.
I have over two decades of experience in the wireless technology and connectivity segments. I started my career at Motorola, and subsequently held product management roles with increasing levels of responsibility at U.S. Cellular, Sierra Wireless, and Novatel Wireless. Most recently, I was the connectivity technology and strategy lead for the Corporate CTO office of Flex.
What first motivated you to get into this area of the automotive industry?
‘Connectivity’ and the transformation that is happening in the automotive industry.
What’s your best on-the-job memory?
There are many, of course, but the very best have been learning – multiple times – that my products have won awards for best design, best engineering, or being first in the market. That is hugely rewarding.
Do you think there is diversity issue in your industry? Has it affected you in any way?
Absolutely, there is a diversity issue. I studied electrical engineering at Chalmers University in Sweden. On day one we were around 200 students with only ten of us female students. By the time it got to my final two years of university, I was the only woman left in the classroom. Even now, there are events at which I’m speaking, or alliances and consortia that I participate in, and I’m the only female engineer present in the room.
What advice would you share with other women wanting to start a career within your industry?
Give engineering a chance: it is fun to initiate, define and develop ideas and products. I think it’s important to find a core technology that you are passionate about, then you can easily apply it in other industries. For example, with connectivity I could seamlessly pivot into automotive and bring the knowledge and experience of other industries into this new sector.
Always seek mentors and coaches to help you navigate your way within a company – that is also very important.