We are Symphony: A conversation with Vijayalaxmi Shinde

Suddhaloke Choudhury
Global Content and Social Media Manager
Rakuten Symphony
March 5, 2024
minute read

We caught up with trained theatre artist and IT/telecom marketing veteran Vijayalaxmi (Vijaya) Shinde at the 2024 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, to learn more about her role as Marketing Director for Rakuten Symphony's Cloud BU.

You've now attended four different MWCs in person, and have participated remotely in several more. How has the event changed over the years for you and what were your takeaways from 2024?

My excitement for MWC never wanes. Every visit is like stepping into a tapestry of innovation. There’s so much happening in the world of technology, and it’s all happening fast! Initially, the event was driven by a quest for innovation, with a strong focus on spotlighting groundbreaking technologies. What’s the next big thing? That was the question on everyone’s mind. More recently, there has been a shift towards sustainability, inclusivity and ethical tech. The atmosphere has grown more sophisticated and diverse. Today, MWC is a forum that not only showcases technological advancements but also fosters meaningful dialogues on their impact on our world. This has been my observation.

Vijaya at the Rakuten Booth during Mobile World Congress 2024
Vijaya at the Rakuten Booth during Mobile World Congress 2024.

Tell us about your journey to Rakuten Symphony and your role here.

This has been one of the most exciting chapters in my career. I was previously associated with some of the leading global brands in the market, such as Wipro and Tata. Joining Robin.io – a small yet fast-growing startup – marked a turning point, which promised a multitude of opportunities. At the time, Robin.io was beginning to gain market traction for its pioneering cloud-native products, which were initially tailored for enterprise needs. We quickly hit the mainstream with the emergence of 5G/Edge and the softwarization of the telecom industry. Robin.io's hyper-converged Kubernetes platform found numerous unprecedented applications in telecom.

Robin.io soon became a key collaborator in Rakuten Symphony’s efforts to create the world’s first fully cloud-native telecom architecture for Rakuten Mobile. The partnership led to Robin.io being acquired by Rakuten Symphony. This significant milestone was made public at MWC 2022.

Being part of the transition to Rakuten Symphony has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I'm thrilled to contribute to the telecom sector's transformation with Rakuten Symphony headlining this change. I currently have the exciting role of directing the marketing efforts for the cloud business unit. My days are filled with strategizing, collaborating with different units and driving our brand forward in innovative ways.

Your background is quite diverse, spanning theatre arts, engineering and marketing. How has this shaped your approach to your role at Rakuten Symphony?

It has been instrumental to my career. My theatre and arts background has instilled in me a deep appreciation for storytelling and creativity, which are crucial in marketing. Engineering, on the other hand, has honed my analytical and problem-solving skills. This blend allows me to approach marketing with a unique perspective, combining creativity with analytics. While I cherish my time in the theatre and arts, I felt a strong desire to explore new challenges and avenues. The corporate world, especially in a sector as dynamic as cloud computing, offered an exciting platform for growth and learning. It was a leap of faith, but I've found my experience in the arts to be incredibly valuable in understanding diverse perspectives and engaging with audiences.

We recently discovered that you enjoy playing the classical Indian instrument, the sitar. Talk about your interests outside of work.

I'm driven by a desire to learn continuously and push the boundaries of what's possible. Whether it's in the arts or the corporate world, I strive to bring passion and innovation to everything I do. It's all about balance and prioritizing. The sitar brings a sense of calm and focus into my often chaotic world, which is vital in a high-paced job. I do manage to find time during early mornings or weekends for practice.

How do you balance your professional aspirations with the challenges of parenthood?

It's definitely a juggling act! Parenthood can be challenging but equally rewarding. Spending time with my daughter Swanandi helps me see what's most important at the end of the day and gets my priorities straight. I also believe in being fully present in whatever I'm doing – whether that's helping her with a school project or taking her to ballet lessons (she is enamored by ballet!). Having a supportive partner and a flexible work environment at Rakuten Symphony also helps immensely.

Vijaya is a trained theatre artist with over a decade of experience
Vijaya is a trained theatre artist with over a decade of experience.

Finally, what advice would you give to young professionals looking to make their mark?

Be open to learning and stepping out of your comfort zone because your unique experiences and background can be your greatest strength. I have learned that the path to success is rarely linear, so it is important to be patient, stay driven,and cherish the journey.

And don’t hesitate to indulge in your multifaceted interests – they are hot pockets of creativity. Take charge of your career and embrace the limitless possibilities that arise when passion, resilience and a willingness to learn drive one's career.

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