May 18th, 2021

Asha Keddy is an expert in wireless technologies, leading global transformation initiatives with diverse teams around the world. She is a notable leader at Intel, spearheading new initiatives from building 2G apps to enabling the adoption of 5G everywhere. Asha’s visionary leadership has touched millions of people around the globe.

Read further to hear about Asha’s executive journey, what companies should be doing now to prepare for disruptive new technologies, and her advice for rising tech leaders.

Tell me about your executive journey up to this point.

I have often taken the road less traveled in my journey. I’ve enjoyed working with many bright people, managing global teams of more than 1,000 people and budgets of $250 million. The consistent thread through my work is looking 3-5 years down the road and helping build that future.

I started in software and received a master’s degree from Clemson University. I joined Intel working in Intel Labs and over time worked developing the original Wi-Fi. I was tackling questions like “How do we test for mobility? How do we validate? How do we automate?” 

When Intel needed a strategy and to execute on LTE and 5G, they put me in charge. The 5G strategic direction we created in 2015 became pivotal for the company. The CEO at the time made it one of the pillars of Intel, and much of that work has been foundational to building today’s distributed and connected network.

What should companies be doing now to prepare for the adoption of 5G?

5G is one of the key factors that will help digital transformation. Not long ago, companies relied on an IT network, communications network, and an operational network to function. What companies should be doing now is looking at how all of these workstreams will converge. What innovations can happen within the company that can help it function better? With processing help, optimization is enabled in all areas. Overall, enterprises should contemplate how they want to look at the data flows on their sites, enable new cases, have flexibility, be more performant and reduce costs.

How do you encourage risk-taking and innovation as a leader? 

There are plenty of skilled and diverse innovators on my team. Highly-skilled team members look across the ecosystem and use constrained, or informed, risk-taking to form complex solutions that have to work no matter the setting. 

Many of the team members have Ph.D.’s and/or a master’s degree; when you are surrounded by people who are very innovative, it becomes the culture of the group. Creativity is also drawn from the diverse backgrounds of each individual on the team, which we intentionally cultivate. Also, everyone’s voice is heard. It is recognized and encouraged. 

What are some of your predictions for 2021 and beyond as a digital and business innovation expert?

COVID-19 has changed the way we work and behave. The pandemic placed a huge emphasis on wireless, whether it be Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. The next step would be taking these transformations into everything we do, including how enterprises transform, then make it cheaper and more sustainable. 

There is an emphasis on social responsibility, green energy, and designing systems that are constructive to find solutions. Technology is predictable, but what humans do with it is not. Various capabilities have been unleashed, especially around enterprises and private networks. It’s time to ask, “how do we embrace it and what can we do with it?” 

What unique value do you bring to the boardroom?

I bring both vision and strategy, especially around digital transformation and how companies evolve with the transformation and the operational management that goes along with it. I work with companies to help prepare them for the next 3-5 years, including what strategies may look like—especially in the fields of artificial intelligence, private networks, hybrid cloud, software technologies, and growing workforces.

Last but not least, I have a lot of execution and leadership experience that comes from managing teams. I’ve worked across the world and therefore have unique knowledge and operational experiences that I could bring to the boardroom.

What brought you to Athena? 

I was recommended to Athena by somebody at Intel. I wanted to begin my board journey but didn’t know much about boards at all. Another friend introduced me to Coco Brown, the founder and CEO of Athena, out of the blue. Once I checked Athena out, I realized I liked what it stood for, the mission, and the diversity/inclusion of the company. I believed in the cause and, if nothing else, I wanted to support the women of Athena.

What advice do you have for women leaders rising in the ranks of tech?

Your career is a journey, remember to enjoy it. Do not be afraid of taking the road less traveled. Then, find substance in the world being different than how you may perceive it. I realized as I got older that I know where my strengths are. It’s important to focus on your strengths versus always being worried about your weaknesses, because the difference is what makes us great. 



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