From designing the standards in mobile phones and IoT devices, to exploring the potential of 6G, Chandrika Worrall plays a key role in the future of connectivity. For International Women’s Day, she tells us her story and experiences as a woman in technology.
For Chandrika Worrall, breaking the mould came easy.
One of three when growing up, she explains how there was never any bias in the way her and her sister and brother were treated.
“I guess my mum is quite forward. She wants girls to be vocal and pave their way in the world.”
An energy Chandrika has clearly inherited, given her quiet confidence and ultimate success in the technology industry.
Interested in maths at school, Chandrika went on to study engineering, before coming to the UK to do her PhD where she was the only woman in a class of 18 men.
Recalling the first time she went to an industry event 20 years ago; Chandrika tells us how only 5% of the room were female. Nowadays that can be up to a quarter, or even a third of the room, so things are changing.
“To be honest, in my role, I’ve always been in the minority in terms of there being lots more men than women.”
As a wireless communication expert, Chandrika is responsible for many of the ways in which our phones work today.
A Senior Standard Strategist at Vodafone, she spends her days working with chip vendors, mobile manufacturers and network operators, creating the industry standards that every device being designed or produced has to comply with.
Focusing on telecommunications technologies, including radio access, core network and service capabilities, there is an increasing focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), as we move to make devices more connected than ever before.
While being in a male dominated environment never bothered Chandrika, she is pleased to see more women coming into technology, with organisations and schools actively encouraging it as a career path. And by being recognised for her work in the industry, she has unknowingly created a roadmap to help these women to succeed.
When it comes to confrontation in the workplace, she simply says, “we need to respect each other’s boundaries, that’s it.”
“I know what I’m capable of, that’s what drives me,” she says confidently, before adding, “in the mobile communication standard groups, I do get the respect.”
Where does this confidence come from?
“I don’t compare myself to others, I never did.”
Instead, Chandrika focuses on her passion to push her own limits and enthusiasm to try new things.
“Everything is always changing and I like that,” she says of the industry. “There's thousands of inventions going into one phone, it’s a big industry.”
Currently, Chandrika is looking at how IoT devices can work in variety of applications, from automated warehouses to natural disaster monitoring and smart homes. One area being trialled is how this technology can be used to improve elderly care at home. The impact here could be truly revolutionary and change people’s lives. Giving individuals independence for longer is just one example of how technology can make the world a more equitable place.
Looking to the future, Chandrika and her team are also already working on the next generation of mobile technology, 6G.
“It is kind of like science fiction because everything is going to be connected. All the devices around us – driverless cars, drones – and with satellite connectivity there will be greater coverage everywhere.”
Chandrika’s role is to work with other mobile companies to define the specifications that will enable this new variety of services and to develop Vodafone’s network so that it can fulfil the requirements that are coming.
Ultimately, what drives Chandrika is that she wants to see her designs being used. “Technology is and should be used to improve the quality of life for everyone.”
We couldn’t agree more!