With a career spanning more than 3 decades, and having held senior rolesin companies like Motorola and Cisco systems, Padmasree Warrior is an inspiration to many women who wish to make a mark in tech. She is at the forefront of NextEV, a US based electric vehicle company, and was even crowned the "Queen of the Electric Car Biz” by Fortune Magazine.
Born into a traditional South Indian family, Warrior spent most of schooling years in India. After earning a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, she began a career in the Tech sector ‘by chance’. While attending a University job fair with a friend, Warrior landed an offer from Motorola.
Beginnings with Motorola
In the initial days of her career, Padmasree worked as the General Manager of Thoughtbeam (a product of Motorola) in Arizona. She joined Motorola in 1984 and served as the Corporate Vice-President and General Manager of Motorola's Energy Systems Group.
In 2003, she also served as the CTO for its Semiconductor Products Sector. Under her guidance, Motorola was awarded the 2004 National Medal of Technology by the then President of the United States, George W Bush, making it the first time the company received this honour. She was subsequently promoted and named its Executive Vice-President in 2005.
Move to Cisco
After Motorola, Padmasree moved on to serve Cisco Systems in 2007 as their Chief Technology & Strategy Officer (CTSO). Here her focus was to align technology, development and corporate strategy to enable the company to anticipate, shape and lead major market transitions.
Warrior was instrumental in transforming the direct technology and operational innovations across the company,overseeing strategic partnerships, investments, M&As, the integration of new business models, incubation of new technologies, and cultivation of world-class technical talent. She also co-led Cisco’s Worldwide Engineering Organization.
As a Senior Vice President of Engineering, she was responsible for core switching, collaboration, cloud computing and data center/virtualization, security and architectures for business transformation. In June 2015, she left Cisco Systems to move to NextEV.
The Parallel Life of Padmasree
Initially, Warrior’s was to pursue her doctorate with her adviser, Ferdinand Rodriguez. Her doctoral plan took a back seat and her career took a different course when she landed the job at Motorola. She had hoped that it would be a one-year position in the industry and that she would thenreturn to focus on her research project. Little did she know that her career would take her on an entirely different journey!
A Power Woman in Tech
Throughout her education and work life, Warrior was one among few women, beating all odds at every stage. Her success in the world of technology has earned her widespread recognition including the International Museum of Women, and Forbes magazine’s, list of 15 Most Powerful Women in Technology for 2013. Fortune called her one of four rising stars on its Most Powerful Women list, placing her between the 10 "highest paid" and the "Young and Powerful" categories.
She has used her position to speak out about the need for more women in leadership roles in the tech sector and also in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Padmasree is always striving to see that more women have decision-making roles at technology companies, and is of the opinion that women have to cross barriers and find a niche for themselves.