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First Lady of Emerging Technologies

9 Jan, 2012 By: Dr. Satwant Kaur, HP imageSource

Living in Silicon Valley, CA, Dr. Satwant Kaur is fondly named "The First Lady of Emerging Technologies." Specifically, Dr. Kaur is a Master Solutions Architect at HP in the CTO office. A regular contributor to imageSource Magazine, this issue gets "Up Close & Personal" with Satwant, on her outstanding accomplishments.

Dr. Kaur, or Satwant, as she often prefers to be called, has served as Faculty in Computers Science & Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology and for the Electrical Engineering Department at Idaho State University where she serves on the Engineering Advisory Board & is IEEE Vice Chair. She also attended the American Heritage University of California (Business School) and is a distinguished member of the Coleman Research Group Executive Forum. Satwant received her Doctorate in Mobile IP technologies from Oakland University, Michigan, and a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering with Distinction from IIT, Delhi.

Along with her academic achievements she is an accomplished writer and more recently, a weekly contributor to live on-air segments entitled “Emerging Technologies” on the Computers2Know radio talk show, garnering thousands of followers. Yet there is remarkable work experience in between, with a career path citing notable companies in technology, including Intel, Nokia, and Symantec, to name a few.

While at Intel, Satwant invented the series of Reduced Interoperability Methodologies, Validation and Test sets that are adopted worldwide, reducing the validation and test configurations from millions to hundreds. She received Intel’s Technology Innovation Award and was featured in Intel’s Circuit and IAG Magazine. She also co-invented CA’s Advance Correlation Engine.

She also served as CTO at TIBCO Software, was a Director at Symantec, and was on the Board of Panacea Software.

Intel published her book, “Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments.” She has 40 publications, 10 keynote Conference Speeches, four Patents (three at Intel and one at Computer Associates), and 20 Distinguished Awards. In the last couple of years alone, about 20
media outlets have featured Satwant on their front cover, as well as being featured in numerous technology magazines.

Wanting some straight answers, imageSource asked her some key questions:

imageSource (IS): You are fondly called “The First Lady of Emerging Technologies. What is the genesis of that title?

Satwant: When Computers2Know were kind enough to honor me with an “Emerging Technologies” segment on their weekly technology podcast show, the producers and my audience coined that phrase.

IS: Did you always want to be a technologist?

Satwant: Yes. At an age when most young girls play with dolls, I was my engineer father’s apprentice in his electronic workshop. I would always try to impress my father by accurately reading the bar code on resistors and calculating their Ohmic value. In a day and age when women technologists were a rarity, I went to the Indian Institute of Technology for my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. There were only two girls in a class of more than two hundred.

IS: What is it about technology that drives you in such a demanding profession?

Satwant: My passion for technology comes from my passion for people. Technology has the ability to transform the quality of human life. There is an urgency to continually reach new frontiers of technology since our very survival depends on it. I find no other profession as “glamorous” as that of technology. For both men and women, starting early is the key. Not just using these technologies, but designing them. Opening them up and seeing what is inside; this curiosity, starting from middle school, should be there and nurtured through college and into the workplace. In the next ten years, millions of the STEM jobs will be created and for that we need to have students trained with the right skills.

IS: What else do you project will happen in the next ten years?

Satwant: Emerging technologies are bringing a paradigm shift in the way critical life services are delivered. Better health care will be provided from remote systems, transportation will be intelligent, and mobility will bring our services to our finger tips. Medical diagnosis and testing will be transformed. Already there are computing applications that can use a web camera to analyze images of a face. And by counting the micro blushes of your face it can tell if your heart beat is regular or not. The list of available uses will be endless. And beyond the Cloud.

IS: You’ve worked with the largest technology giants at various executive levels. What is it like working for
HP now?

Satwant: Actually, I started my career as an assistant engineer; R&D hardware with HP. It was my first love. Then I was blessed with two children and decided to take a relaxed government job as a scientist. I promised myself I’d come back to HP. The synchronicity for where the company is today and what I can do to contribute to its success where my technology expertise is required, makes it an ideal work relationship. It is an incredible organization worldwide.

IS: What were the major influences that put you on this tech path?

Satwant: I would never have been the engineer that I am today without my mentors. It is due to what I received from my mentors that I’m driven to evangelize technologies and spread the word about technology.

IS: Is there any businesswoman whom you especially admire today?

Satwant: Yes, Cathy Brune. She is the president of Allstate. When she was the CIO, I was her Trusted Technical Advisor (TTA). I am truly fortunate to continue to have her as my mentor. Like her, I have learned to treat my femininity as a strength, even in the male dominated tech space. Intellect is gender-neutral; it’s what you do with it; how you contribute on a professional level that matters most.

IS: What is important to get ahead?

Satwant: Follow your heart always. If you can’t break glass ceilings, grow sideways. For instance, a glass ceiling exists for those who think growth is only vertical. I have grown in every which way I possibly could. I have made lateral moves that have brought me and my employers’ tremendous success, and I’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment. If I was focused on vertical growth alone, I could not have been so successful in other areas of emerging technologies, including mobility with the Nokia research center, security with Symantec, hardware with Intel - you name it! I would not have the good fortune to work in national labs research, academia teaching, and industry technology products; as well as in management consultancy and an advisor in the financial sectors. So, you see, I don’t even see the glass ceiling.

IS: Is there something people don’t readily know about you?

Satwant: I love science fiction movies.

IS: Naturally! Is there one that you like in particular?

Satwant: I really liked PRIMER. It is a time machine story; same pretext as “Back to the Future”, but with a more complicated distortion of events. Primer makes us stop and think on how we use the new found powers that technology offers to improve the lives of our loved ones.

This brings us back to the message that, basically, there is great urgency to move quickly into our technologically-advanced future. Many are preparing now to manage this efficient world that is evolving at such a rapid pace. There is no profession at the moment that is as exciting as emerging technologies – it’s a direct path to global survival. Therefore, I’m in the right place at the right time, and I couldn’t be happier than to contribute in a variety of distinctive ways.


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