We are Symphony: A conversation with Paromita Shah

Suddhaloke Choudhury
Global Content and Social Media Manager
Rakuten Symphony
July 10, 2023
minute read

Perpetual learner, bibliophile, yoga enthusiast: Telecom Security expert Paromita brings passion and a growth mindset to everything she does. She shares her fascinating telecom story and offers advice to young women interested in joining the industry.

Tell us about your career journey to Rakuten Symphony.

I started my journey by pursuing my engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunication, after which I joined Tata Communications as a network engineer. In this role, I gained invaluable experience in network planning and deploying large-scale IP and broadband networks.

Next, I seized an opportunity at WIPRO Technologies, working on networking, IP routing and switching. I then transitioned into working on small-cell technology, dedicating nearly four years to the exciting field of radio access technology. Subsequently, I embraced a new opportunity at Nokia, where I played various roles, from testing & architecting security solutions to being a customer engagement consultant, addressing potent security challenges and requirements while providing effective solutions.

Taking another significant step forward in my career, I joined Rakuten Symphony earlier this year. Now, as a standard delegate representing Rakuten Symphony for O-RAN Alliance, I am actively engaged in the development and implementation of Open RAN security standards. This role allows me to collaborate with industry stakeholders and cross-functional teams within the organization to define security standards and security principles.

Sightseeing through the archeological marvels of Hampi, India
Sightseeing through the archeological marvels of Hampi, India.

What drew you to Rakuten Symphony?

I came across an opportunity on LinkedIn, which led to an engaging conversation with Nagendra Bykampadi, Head of Security and Architecture at Rakuten Symphony. Nagendra’s remarkable expertise and influence in the fields of security, both in 3GPP and Open RAN standards, inspired me greatly. That conversation sparked a strong interest in exploring security and Open RAN technology. It was clear that this opportunity was more than just a job; it was an avenue to translate passion into purpose. Rakuten Symphony offered a chance to work alongside brilliant minds, collaborate with visionaries, and contribute to a telecom future safeguarded by cutting-edge security measures.

What does it mean to be a security standardization delegate at Rakuten Symphony?

As a security standardization delegate in the Security and Research Department of Rakuten Symphony representing the company on the WG11/Security Focus roup of the O-RAN Alliance., my role is to provide technical contributions, expertise,and insights to influence the development and implementation of security standards for the various components of O-RAN Solution, like OSS, Cloud and RAN. Collaborating with internal and external stakeholders, I work closely with various teams within Rakuten Symphony, including product development on the security standardization requirements, threat and risk assessment programs.

Run us through a day a day in your life

My day begins with early morning yoga and meditation to center myself and prepare for the day ahead. Following a 30-minute coffee break, I catch up on emails, plan out my to-do list, and skim through the newspaper headlines. Around 8:30 a.m., I head to the office, ready and charged up for the day. My daily agenda typically includes engaging in security-related discussions and collaborating closely with product development, and customer engagement teams. Around midday, my attention turns toward preparing for the upcoming O-RAN Alliance work group meetings or other ongoing projects. This involves the preparation of technical contributions, review of security requirements and controls for various features, and brainstorming ideas for any new advanced security technology.  

From a tech standpoint, what do you find exciting about your role?

It's thrilling to collaborate with professionals to design robust security solutions, conduct threat and risk assessments, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. My team and I get to work on diverse security issues related to RAN and Cloud OSS which helps us keep up to date on a variety of disruptive technology.

Paromita at her hometown in Assam, India
Paromita in her hometown of Assam, India.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges that come with being a women in tech?

Having spent over a decade in the tech industry, I’ve seen firsthand how women bring a unique perspective and innovative problem-solving approach to the table. Yet, working in this industry as a woman does not come without its challenges. We often find ourselves at crossroads where we have to navigate work and family responsibilities. One of the primary challenges for women in tech, particularly in the security domain, is the gender imbalance. Women are underrepresented in this field. As women, we tend to underestimate ourselves and hesitate to take on new challenges. Nevertheless, I have personally experienced that breaking free from our comfort zones opens up boundless opportunities for growth.

It is extremely rewarding to be at the forefront of shaping and implementing security standards, security architectures, protocols and technologies for Open RAN-based networks and incorporating that into a comprehensive security portfolio and best practices for Rakuten Symphony products.

What are some hobbies that help you recharge during your downtime?

I love reading various genres of books: Fiction, non-fiction, leadership and biographies. My current favourite is “Life is Full” by Indra Nooyi and I am about to read "Mojo" by Marshall Goldsmith. A few recommendations from my book library are “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, “Ikigai” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, and “Multiplier” by Liz Wiseman.

Currently, I am listening to “The Tim Ferriss Show” podcast, where he engages in in-depth conversations with his guests, exploring their personal stories, insights, strategies, and habits for success.

I also love travelling and trying out various cuisines.

Do you have a favourite quote that inspires or motivates you?

These are two quotes that deeply resonate with me.

  1. "Take risks in your life. If you win, you can lead; if you lose, you can guide." – Swami Vivekananda
  2. “The great growling engine of change – technology.” – Alvin Toffler

What's next for Paromita? What makes you excited about the future?

I embrace the mindset of a perpetual learner and shall continue to level up my skills in the dynamic field of security and next-generation security technologies for Open RAN, 5G and beyond. I hope to influence more women to engage in the telco security domain through mentorship programs. I also want to spend some time journaling and involve myself in forums that provides me an opportunity to pay it forward to the community.

At Rakuten Symphony, I am fortunate to be part of a diverse, open, and transparent culture that fosters growth, innovation, and diversity. The opportunities for personal and professional development are abundant, and I have found the experience to be incredibly enriching so far. I am excited to see what the future holds as I continue to grow and contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of the industry.

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