“The best recipe for innovation is work-life harmony, equality, and cultural diversity”
What does it take to come up with original ideas in a technology industry that never sleeps? Our Wireless Telecom Software Designer Chethan Kumar shares his best innovation strategies and reflects around why our Ottawa office was voted the Best Place to Work in the capital region this year, for the second time.
Like all great stories, Chethan Kumar’s story started with a dream. As a young boy in Southern India, he used to wait impatiently for the science magazines to arrive in the mailbox so that he could solve all their puzzles and mysteries. Today, life is still a puzzle and a mystery – and Chethan is even more curious about it. “What fascinates me the most about the technology industry is that we are in a position to create solutions that improve the quality of life for people around the world,” he says.
The fascination and curiosity that was born in a family home in Southern India brought Chethan around the world. He obtained an engineering degree in electronics and communication, followed by an MBA, and embarked on an international career that involved collaborations with world-leading players in the telecom industry. Wireless technology, and the infinite possibilities that it opens up, remain Chethan’s strongest passion. That passion has brought him to offices across America, Asia, and Europe, where he has developed solutions in areas such as protocol stack design, CDMA, WiMAX, LTE, NBIOT and 5G technology. This year, he joined Syntronic Research & Development Canada, where he focuses on developing advanced wireless telecom software solutions.
Open-mindedness: A success factor
What does it take to be able to innovate in a fast-paced industry that constantly reinvents itself? Open-mindedness, creativity, and collaboration are among the most important factors, in Chethan’s experience. “The best way to keep an open mind is to travel as much as possible, to get exposed to ideas, mindsets and methods that are different from your own. Technical innovation is about the ability to see a problem from a different angle. Travelling, and professional experience from teams that are culturally diverse, allows us to develop that skill,” he says.
For professionals who want to benefit from the positive aspects of cultural diversity, Syntronic Research & Development Canada is often described as the perfect workplace. Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Syntronic’s local office, situated in dynamic Ottawa, is renowned for its excellent working environment – to a point where it has received a Best Place to Work in the capital region award (Employees' Choice Awards, ECA) twice. “I have worked in offices across the globe. There are many reasons why Syntronic Canada stands out as fantastic. The fact that we are an international team in a multicultural country strengthens our creativity and ability to constantly innovate. Moreover, we are a flat organization without social hierarchies. Everyone is free to express and share ideas with the whole team,” Chethan explains.
Flexibility and variety in terms of roles and assignments are other reasons why Syntronic Canada consistently ranks high when workplaces are compared, Chethan believes. “This is not an industry where people enjoy waking up in the morning and doing the exact same thing as they have done for the last 50 years. At Syntronic, each new assignment is an opportunity to grow and develop,” he says.
Work-life harmony at Syntronic Canada
The last, and perhaps most important, ingredient in Chethan’s recipe for innovation at work is to pursue passions and interests outside of the office. “Life is too amazing for us to explore just one side of it. My first manager taught me that. He was an excellent engineer, but also a well-known play writer and enthusiastic gardener. Each of his passions helped him stay creative throughout his career.”
The fact that Syntronic Canada actively encourages its team members to obtain an excellent work-life harmony, through flexible schedules and additional benefits, also contributes to its status as a sought-after workplace, Chethan believes. His personal strategy for staying creative is to be an enthusiastic father and husband who plays in the snow, a sketch artist, a table tennis player, and… an experimental chef. “When I travel, I always visit local restaurants and ask for the most traditional local dish. Then, when I get home, I try to recreate the recipe, but I add an Indian touch – for instance by adding more spices – to create something new.”
Those last three words – to create something new – catches the essence of what Chethan aspires to achieve, both personally and professionally. “Syntronic’s slogan is ‘one step ahead’. That is the place where I want to be – at the one-step-ahead position where I get the opportunity to contribute to solutions that can make everyday life better for others,” he concludes.