1. What do you do professionally?
I am an Electronics Lead Engineer/Manager who mostly works on designing and leading teams designing chips. The products for which I designed chips are Simulation Accelerators, Disk Drive Controllers, Wi-Fi, Home Networking, TV Tuners, Cell Phone Power Management, DNA Sequencing, and Silicon Photonics.
2. What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I like knowing that the result of what I work on ends up in the hands, homes, and offices of people all over the world, and that the circuits I came up with in my brain are performing the functions they are supposed to, when they are far out of my reach. I also enjoy leading projects and mentoring other engineers.
3. What is the biggest challenge you face?
At this point it is deciding when and how to retire. I feel that there will always be interesting work and people willing to pay for me to do it. At the same time, I wonder if that is what life is. Is it work, work, and then die? I am not sure how I will get myself to stop working, but I also want to do different things. Maybe companies will be much more flexible in their work arrangements because of Covid-19, and I can find a middle ground.
4. What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
I had a chance to go back to my hometown of Salvador in Brazil to open a design center from scratch with no chip design in a 1000km radius. I interviewed, hired, mentored, and trained a team of chip design engineers, offshoring chip design services for companies in the United States, using labor locally in Brazil. I also had a chance to procure a few local projects with subsidies from the Brazilian National Development Bank. What is also interesting about this adventure is that it is basically a real-world implementation of my final G321 Organization Design Assignment in the class taught by Fuqua professor Gerry DeSanctis.
5. What is the best professional advice you have received?
Don’t worry about making money. Just do what you enjoy doing, and not only will you enjoy it more, you will probably also end up making more money than if you did focus on making money. I am not sure who gave me this advice, and it is possible that I gave it to myself.
6. Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
I have worked for thirteen companies in my career, and I do like it here at Cisco Systems, Inc. It is one of the best companies I have worked for. But my dream job once I deliver product in one company is always "what else can I work on." Therefore, I am always looking for what is the next interesting technology I can apply my skills to. Right now, I am thinking about Genomics Processors, Artificial Intelligence, or Quantum Computing. I would also try to do something on my own once I don’t need to earn money for a living.
7. Professionally or personally, what are you excited about right now?
More than eight years ago, while at Qualcomm-San Diego, I led a ten-engineer team in designing the digital logic in a Power Management chip targeted for use in cell phones. Recently, I found out that this chip was part of the Ingenuity Helicopter on Mars! This was totally unexpected, since I designed the chip for cell phones. As I investigated, I found out that Qualcomm entered the drone market, and reused the chip I worked on for their Flight Kit for drones. Even more surprising is that JPL/NASA decided to use commercial (as opposed to radiation hardened for space) grade products to build their experimental helicopter and chose Qualcomm’s Flight Kit as the starting point to build the autonomous navigation capabilities. So surprisingly my chip is on Mars, doing what it is supposed to do, far, far out of my reach. For a more in depth look at my connection to Mars see https://tinyurl.com/RajaMarsE.
8. What do you like to do outside of work?
I love the ocean; in fact, my first two career moves were beach related. First, I wanted to live next to the beach, then later I wanted to live next to a warmer beach here in San Diego. I just make sure to find a job close to the beach I choose. I am a surfer and an avid member of the Del Mar Bodysurfing Club. I also volunteer at a surf clinic offered by the Naval Medical Center San Diego that serves service members with mental/physical health issues (this has been on hiatus due to Covid-19).
9. What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
How to work hard and play hard at the same time with barely any sleep. It was also my first introduction to working remotely in teams, which has come in very handy. I also used what I learned in class in leading and managing teams.
10. Who was your favorite professor?
My favorite class/professor at Fuqua was G312-Decision Models taught by Robert (Bob) T. Clemen. The class made me see how my strong skills in Mathematics and Engineering could be applied to Decision Analysis and Management.
11. What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
I was part of the GEMBA program, so we had classes all around the world. There was one night in Beijing that a few classmates went to a Xinjianganese Restaurant because we were told the food was a little different, so we wanted to try it out. Once there we found out another group of classmates ended up in the same place. About three quarters of the way through our very enjoyable meal, all the waiters informed us that dinner was over. They cleared tables and brought out a belly dancer to dance on the tables. At my classmates urging, I ended up dancing on the tables too, and one of us ended up drumming with the band with his tie around his head. It was a memorable night. It became a recurring theme for me to be urged to dance on tables and stages after that.
12. How do you keep up with your classmates?
I am a frequent (maybe too frequent ) poster on our class’s private Facebook page and WhatsApp group, and have attended both of our class reunions in Barcelona and Napa Valley. I am not typically an organizer of events and get togethers, but more of an instigator.
13. What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
Team Fuqua means respect earned from working hard together during classes, getting together online or in person through the years with the same camaraderie that we had from being all over the world together, and celebrating and rooting for each other’s career success and personal fulfillment.