Laura Resteghini works at Huawei’s 5G networks R&D centre in Milan. Here, she talks about collaborating, communication and encouraging the next generation.
As a senior microwave antenna engineer at Huawei’s research centre in Milan, Laura Resteghini is someone who knows a thing or two about communication. Aside from the fact that, yes, microwave antennas are used in communications, there’s the part of Resteghini’s job that depends on her ability to talk to various colleagues with different skillsets so they can all work together to get a project done or a problem solved.
Resteghini describes herself as “a bridge” between various people who work on microwave antenna systems at the Milan centre, which is focused on high-frequency systems for 5G networks. She says that most of her and her colleagues’ time “is dedicated to solving issues and next-generation products”.
“We take a, let’s say, a desire from our business unit to solve a problem and then we try to find a solution,” she says, adding that the business unit usually provides them with some level of specification regarding the system. She works with her colleagues to detect the requirements for that particular system and they use mathematical tools to synthesise the antennas before going on to manufacturing and testing. There is a lot of R&D involved and problem-solving, naturally.
Resteghini works more on the antenna side of things but she has to make sure that the different teams involved in a particular project know exactly what they need to contribute to get the project completed. She spends a lot of time filling the antenna designer in on what the system engineer says about a particular issue and vice versa.
“When you explain an antenna to a system engineer, maybe you have to simplify the problem. Like when you speak to kids, not because they don’t understand but because the way we explain our work is totally different,” she says. “You have to find a way to convey a message to someone who is working on another different topic.” Simplicity is key.
Nowadays, all of the disparate people who work on these antenna components need to know a little bit about how their role impacts the wider project because, as Resteghini says “Everything is in the same box, so they all have to speak to each other”.
From past to future
Like a lot of R&D professionals, Resteghini is passionate about educating the technologists of the future. She is working with PhD students and interns. What is it like being in charge of so many people and having to be conscious of her own duties, too? She says her co-workers are all quite close in the sense that there is very little formal hierarchical structure.
“We are colleagues, so we cooperate. There is one boss and we stay all at the same level. Even though there are different seniority levels, we are a team and we work a lot together.”
Resteghini started out in tech as a communications engineer after studying at the Polytechnic University in Milan. Like her current charges, she obtained a PhD and she worked in a number of different start-ups in industries as diverse as space and IoT devices. She also did a stint at her alma mater in Milan as a researcher looking at electromagnetic wave propagation modelling. She joined Huawei in 2016. What was it like moving to a big company from academic roles and roles within start-ups?
“The part that I like the most is the time that we have to think about how to solve an issue,” she says. She adds that her experience working at start-ups gave her a good grounding on how to learn fast, work as part of a small team and upskill herself. The Huawei job affords her more time to stay on top of the latest tech research, which she has to do to keep on top of the various antenna-related problems she is asked to deal with. Another part of her current role she enjoys is Huawei’s collaboration with the Polytechnic of Milan. She leads a joint lab between the two and says “We are at the cutting-edge of technology.” Watch this space.
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