We are Symphony: A conversation with Vaibhav Pathak

Suddhaloke Choudhury
Global Content and Social Media Manager
Rakuten Symphony
April 14, 2023
minute read

Curious by nature, Vaibhav Pathak, Engineering Manager, talks to us about the power that programming, poetry and cuisine hold in connecting people and bridging human experiences.

Tell us a little bit about your career journey.
Sightseeing at the City of Lakes, Udaipur, India
Sightseeing at the City of Lakes, Udaipur, India

Algorithmic programming and web application development have always been my areas of interest and after completing my post-grad, gaining proficiency at it while at a start-up. Following a brief stint at another organization in Mumbai, India, where I was involved in end-to-end product transformation, I was able to unlock my true potential in Indore, India. There, as part of Innoeye, I learned to create products that challenged industry norms and helped businesses generate better returns. It has been over 5 years since I joined Innoeye, which became part of Rakuten Symphony in 2021. Currently, as an engineering manager, I not only work on technical solutions but also help add inputs to business aspects of two disruptive products, Service Desk and Knowledge Hub, working globally with Rakuten Symphony teams in Japan, India, Germany and the U.S.

What about Rakuten resonates with you?

My curiosity towards Rakuten first arose when they became the main sponsor of FC Barcelona. This curiosity led me to learn that even though Rakuten was founded in Japan, it is a truly global brand and is engaged in a gamut of businesses around the world. Rakuten’s vision is centered around innovation and this word resonates with my own professional aspirations. And even though I have worked with clients globally in the past, to have colleagues and peers working together from every part of the world has been an incredible experience. This diversity is also an attraction for me.  

As part of Rakuten Symphony, what are your current roles and responsibilities?

In the end, it’s about creating simple, rich and world-class products that will transform operations and make the lives of our end users or customers easier. As an engineering manager/tech lead, my main responsibility is to lead a team of professionals, who with their different skillsets, come together, pool their expertise, learn, grow, and create disruptive products. Apart from overseeing the teams, daily engagements with business leaders and customers provide us with the right inputs and real-time use cases to expand and improve our offerings. With growing complexities in tech and business, an intuitive and self-learning experience is our approach to problem solving.

Run us through a day in the life of Vaibhav.

My work day starts early and usually begins with discussions on strategy, new features, design and use cases with one of our leaders, and my mentor, Tapas Ranjan. I then review my calendar, tackle important emails and update my to-do list as required. After this, there are daily huddles with the team in Japan and India where we review the status of projects and tasks, and discuss new features and how we can bring them to life using the latest technologies. During the second half of the day, I engage in research on the latest trends and tech to help me guide the team. The day ends with planning for the next day. Customer engagement is a large part of our daily work, and needs to be tended to throughout the day in parallel with my ongoing tasks.

"People can be experts in their respective areas, but getting them together to work towards a common goal is something that excites me."
-Vaibhav Pathak, Engineering Manager, Rakuten Symphony
What about the team that you're working with or industry you're working in excites you at the moment?

Irrespective of the industry we work in, a team that works and grows together is, in my opinion, a powerful asset. People can be experts in their respective areas, but getting them together to work towards a common goal is something that excites me.  

Secondly, in telecommunications, which is in dire need of evolution, we have been able to create products using automation and AI that are not only solving the growing needs of the increasing workloads of Communication Service Providers (CSPs) but are also simplifying the whole experience. Addressing these challenges daily and actually getting simultaneous feedback from our customers on how much easier their operations have become, is a motivation for the entire team.

Vaibhav at a jungle safari in Ranthambore, India
Vaibhav at a jungle safari in Ranthambore, India
What are some of the hobbies you enjoy pursuing outside your busy work schedule?

I love to travel because the people you meet along the way leave an imprint on you and your own personal growth. You see awe inspiring sites and make memories. I also like to explore different cultures through their food. Besides this, I read novels in my mother tongue.

Staying active is also important for me. Table tennis is one of my favorite games and I usually play over the weekend. Other than that, I like to swim. In fact, during my school days, I had the opportunity to compete at a national level.

"Enjoying food of different cultures and being able to have a conversation with people helps break the ice universally and in my experience, has led to many memorable moments."
Are there any other secret skills you have which people may not know about?

I’d like to say I am a good cook – mainly Indian Cuisine – and this has helped me massively during my travels. Enjoying food of different cultures and being able to have a conversation with people helps break the ice universally and in my experience, has led to many memorable moments. During my free time, I sometimes dabble in some poetry as well.

Do you have a favorite quote which inspires you?

Yes. I believe in the saying, “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

Are there any personal or professional goals you have set yourself for the near future?

On the personal front, traveling is always on the cards, whenever I have time to spare. I am also constantly writing and compiling the poems I have written over the years and am hoping to get them published soon. Professionally, I love my work and would like to continue learning and growing. Certifications are another way of learning in an organized manner and getting recognition. This includes enhancing my skills as a manager and building great teams.

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