Punitha Sinnapan, 42
Vice president automotive design and innovation, Cubic Telecom
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I was hired as a display and graphics processing unit application engineer at Intel Malaysia. My graphics expertise in display, 3D and video met the needs of the organization, and it was this work that opened the door for me into this exciting industry.
Your greatest achievement?
Professionally, I have achieved recognition in the industry for my depth of knowledge of in-vehicle architectures. I'm leading technology transformation for ground-breaking automotive manufacturers with Cubic Telecom. Personally, my greatest achievement is raising an amazing girl, my daughter Sharunnie, while managing a busy and successful career.
Born: Kedah, Malaysia
Languages: English, Malay, Tamil, basic Japanese
Education: Master's degree in internet engineering, University of Science Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia; bachelor's degree in computer science, University of Technology Malaysia, Johor, Malaysia
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
My career has included lots of ups and downs. Sometimes I felt powerless during the lows. However, every failure taught me something. Each one helped me build resilience and become more adaptable in the face of unexpected changes. In fact, failures and mistakes have helped me learn and improve while going forward.
What is your current challenge at work?
Setting out new technology innovation projects and strategic initiatives can often result in changes to an organization, especially for internal stakeholders. It can be a daily challenge to help guide and influence these leaders and key decision-makers to help them navigate change and shift mindsets.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is that as long as there is a choice, you must consider yourself lucky. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. When you do, wear the experience like a warrior because you had the courage to try and fail.
2020-present: Vice president automotive design and innovation, Cubic Telecom, Dublin, Ireland
2017-2020: Staff system architect, Intel Corporation, Tokyo, Japan
2008-2017: Senior solution architect, Intel Microelectronics, Penang, Malaysia
2007-2008: Senior software engineer, Mimos Berhad, Kulim, Malaysia
2006-2007: Senior software engineer, Agilent Technologies, Penang, Malaysia
2003-2006: Software engineer, Tetra development team, Motorola, Penang, Malaysia
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
It is an amazing industry to be part of. It's going through a series of major digital transformations. Technical progress in the automotive industry will influence how smart infrastructure, smart homes and smart vehicles work together in the future. As a result, vehicle ownership will transform. From my perspective, this will offer significant growth opportunities for knowledge-building and cultivate creativity for those who crave a challenging career.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
To me, it is not about the job. It's about the role that I want to play in the future. I've always enjoyed working on next-generation, forward-looking technology innovations. I would love to continue working in a leadership role, understanding the industry as it evolves, and leading technology and business transformation. At the same time, I want to empower young leaders and experts to develop in the field.
What do you do to relax?
I love to bake. It helps me unwind after a busy week. Beating and folding the batter is so satisfying, therapeutic and makes me a better baker, too!
What is your dream location to live?
Aside from my hometown, I have lived in Penang, Malaysia, Tokyo and now Dublin. I'm adventurous and have loved building new homes in each of these places. There is no specific dream location I have in mind right now. However, I'm always open to moving to new places when there is an opportunity and the timing feels right. As for the long term, I see myself moving closer to home and family. Singapore or Malaysia would be ideal.
What is your favorite driving song?
When driving by myself I love to listen to songs sung in Tamil. It's my native language. The songs spark many beautiful memories and take me back in time.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
In Malaysia, I lived in the northern part of the country, so when I wanted to visit my mother and siblings I would drive south. My mother is a wonderful cook. Being greeted by her amazing food each time I got home was a memorable experience. Listening to my favorite music, stopping for coffee and food along the way as well as the anticipation of meeting one of my favorite people on this earth made those long journeys worthwhile.
What was your first car?
It was a silver Perodua Kelisa with black leather interior, locally manufactured by a Malaysian automaker that uses a lot of components from Daihatsu. It was a compact car, which came in handy when navigating through heavy traffic on my commute to work.
I drive a red Audi A1.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
Definitely a Rolls-Royce Sweptail. It's a classic yet sleek car that is built to perfection.