Sara Colaiuta, Technical Program Manager, talks about the thrill and reward of joining a company that is pushing true innovation in connectivity as well as how she draws inspiration from the world’s best fictional boxer.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to Rakuten Symphony.
I’m originally from Rome, Italy, and started my career at LG as a Radio Frequency Engineer right after graduation. It was the idea of connecting people all over the world that drew me in. My role at LG was technical but I wanted to explore more of how the business side worked and this took me to Accenture. This is where I first learned about Rakuten Mobile and the concept of Open RAN that Rakuten Symphony (before it was even named Rakuten Symphony) was developing. I considered this a real innovation. Something that you don’t come across often.
After spending some time with an Italian telco company helping to reduce the “digital divide” and providing connectivity there, I challenged myself for a role at Rakuten Symphony. When I got the offer, I took the leap and moved to Japan. This was one year ago!
I’m fascinated by the automation and standardization that Open RAN offers and being able to explore this here with my colleagues is an ongoing highlight in my career.
What does a day in the life of Sara look like?
I manage the Engineering team and the product growth for one of Rakuten Symphony’s key portfolio products called Symworld™ Platform. Think of it as an App Store full of apps developed by telecom and non-telecom companies that mobile network operators can then pick and choose from based on their individual networks’ needs. There’s nothing out there in the industry like Symworld™.
Planning and strategizing are essential parts of my job. My day starts with many different meetings with customers and vendors to ensure their needs and requirements are understood and translated into actions for my teams. I then review progress and consult on other goals to ensure our product is running smoothly. Every day brings something new, which is why my job is so exciting - I never get bored!
Where do you draw your motivation and inspiration from?
Sylvester Stallone, and his movie Rocky, is one of my biggest inspirations. When he submitted the script's first draft, Stallone was a nobody in the film industry, and all the production studios kept rejecting him. He tried and failed over and over again. But this "never say never" attitude led him to become who he is today. One of my favorite quotes from him, which pushes me to keep going and always be a better version of myself is: “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
I think this is particularly important for what we’re doing in the telecom world. If we want to improve how we connect with others, we have to keep looking for new ways forward!
How do you recharge from your busy day-to-day?
I love going out into nature. Since I moved to Japan, I started snowboarding and now, I’m in love with it. Whenever I have the chance, I try to go snowboarding over the weekends in places around Nagano and Niigata prefecture! It lets me be present in the moment and disconnect myself.
I also love drawing and playing music. I might not be the best neighbor though since you’ll find me often singing around my house while listening to my favorite artists such as Queen or Sia.
"Rakuten Symphony is an extremely flat organization and my colleagues come from a lot of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. This creates a great environment for open ideas and honest communication."
How would you describe what’s special about Rakuten Symphony?
People here dare to think differently. I know that might sound a bit cheesy but everyone is encouraged to bring their perspectives and ideas to the table to improve services and products. Rakuten Symphony is an extremely flat organization and my colleagues come from a lot of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. This creates a great environment for open ideas and honest communication.
For example, when we had our first release for Symworld™ Platform, people were so collaborative. In the end, we created something that was beyond even our own initial expectations.
What advice do you have for people considering to join Rakuten Symphony?
Here, you’ll be part of a company that is actually pushing boundaries, and this means you’ll have a lot of opportunities at your fingertips to develop new skills that will help you become more valuable in your future career. So believe in yourself, step out of your comfort zone and welcome the challenge. You’ll go further than you ever thought you could!