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Shakil Barkat, Global Product Lead at Motorola: “Find your calling and do it with passion. Everything else will work itself out.”

“Find your calling and do it with passion. Everything else will work itself out.” From when I was little, I would take things apart to learn about them. From my mother’s vacuum cleaner to electronics from second hand stores, I always had something taken apart and put back together. It was the joy of fixing […]


“Find your calling and do it with passion. Everything else will work itself out.” From when I was little, I would take things apart to learn about them. From my mother’s vacuum cleaner to electronics from second hand stores, I always had something taken apart and put back together. It was the joy of fixing the vacuum or turbo charging the racecar, which propelled me into high tech product development and my calling.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Shakil Barkat. Shakil leads Global Product Development for Motorola Mobility and Lenovo MBG, including: Product Design, System & Product Architecture, Component Technologies and Global Product Integration & Test. Shakil is a 21-year veteran of Motorola, as an engineer and then as lead in multiple Product Development and Architecture teams; holding 8 patents issued with 2 pending. Shakil currently leads the entire Motorola product line, including moto z and moto mods development along with the moto g and moto e products, as well as innovation with the Architecture teams.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Early on in my career at Motorola, I had the benefit of working on highly innovative products, such as the StarTAC and V60. Watching Motorola users experience these iconic devices for the first time with a smile on their face was fulfilling and motivating. Since then I’ve never second-guessed my decision to work on innovative consumer electronics.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In the late 90s, I was working on a phone being introduced in Europe with new cellular technology. To debug the device properly we frequently visited major cities in Europe for testing. One specific instance in Basingstoke, UK, four Motorola engineers and I needed to find a specific location that was causing a failure to occur. We suited up with backpacks loaded with laptop computers connected to the phone with wires. All five of us wound up at a large department store walking around the isles when a group of police officers and security guards surrounded us and started questioning us for suspicious behavior. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a great idea but it wasn’t we fixed the problem, shipped the phone, and it was one of Motorola’s most popular devices ever.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Motorola has a 90-year history of innovation and has been on the forefront of many great technological breakthroughs — from the first commercial handheld cell phone to the world’s best-selling clamshell flip phone, the Motorola RAZR. In early 2019, Motorola is set to celebrate groundbreaking innovation yet again by bringing our 5G future to life with the 5G moto mod. This Verizon-exclusive device will give users first access to Verizon’s 5G mobile network when paired with the moto z3, the world’s first 5G-upgradable smartphone released in August 2018. The 5G moto mod attaches to the back of any the moto z3 device using a series of magnets. The bond is created using 16 golden contact points located on the back of each phone, and once connected the 5G moto mod uses a series of four built-in antennas to support speeds of up to 5 gbps, or five times that of the fastest LTE networks in the U.S.

How do you think this might change the world?

5G is a transformational milestone greater than any other in the history of wireless and Motorola is the first company providing consumers the ability to experience it. Higher bandwidth and lower latency will enable a level of mobile streaming and gaming quality akin to consoles and computers. Autonomous cars, smart communities, industrial IoT, and immersive education will all rely on this lightning-fast technology. With this new level of efficiency, students will use AR to travel to historical monuments and collaborate globally in real-time. Patients will gain access to and receive treatment from physicians around the world thanks to the more connected world 5G delivers. Furthermore, by 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide, thanks to the digitization of transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and other physical industries. In all aspects of our lives, 5G will change what it means to use technology.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Most people are used to being connected everywhere they go. With the lower latency and faster download times promised by 5G, on-the-go technology will actually feel much less inhibiting. We’ll spend less time downloading, streaming and waiting on poor connections allowing us to worry less about technology and focus on other important things.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

There is not one “tipping point” we can identify as the reason 5G is being introduced. At Motorola, we’re constantly looking to improve our users’ experience and innovate our products to bring them to the next level. When 5G came on the horizon, we started early on the “new radio” 5G antenna, thermal mitigation techniques, and battery optimizations. We take a lot of pride, at Motorola, in our engineering fundamentals and our deep knowledge in wireless embedded designs. By working closely with our partners at Verizon and Qualcomm we are able to bring something truly special to life, the 5G moto mod.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

When 5G is introduced, fully understanding its benefits may be difficult for some simply because the jump in speed will be so vast. When people start seeing this transformative technology in action — lightning-fast downloads, enhanced real-time AR and VR experiences, seamless long-distance connectivity and more — 5G’s full capability will be broadly realized and passionately sought out.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

For many in the mobile and telecoms industry, 5G is on the tip of their tongues. We’ve benefited from a lot of natural intrigue and have worked closely with our partner Verizon on sharing our progress through a variety of different channels.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been blessed with many great influences over the years but I’m most grateful to my mother. She was a strong clear-headed person who always knew the right thing to do. I learned so much from her and she’s always my guiding light during difficult moments.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Getting involved with the local community. I like to use my experience to help tech startups, provide guidance to STEM students, and support non-profit organizations.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Work and family balance is crucial to a satisfying life.
  2. Find your calling and do it with passion. Everything else will work itself out.
  3. Question everything! Most rules in life are outdated and dogma.
  4. Pick a few things and do them well. Focus is needed to succeed.
  5. Never upset your cube mate. Strong relationships with teammates helps drive success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to inspire people who are passionate about education to see the full potential of technology and implement it into their teachings as much as possible. Innovations in technologies like 5G allow a spectrum of learning tools not seen before. The lower levels of latency and faster speeds enabled by 5G will allow students to use AR to travel into historic moments, immerse themselves virtually in experiences around the world, and collaborate with fellow students globally. My hope is that this exposure to transformative technology will inspire our next generation of students to further their STEM education and help organizations and companies, like Motorola, continue to introduce innovative products and make technological advancements.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Find your calling and do it with passion. Everything else will work itself out.” From when I was little, I would take things apart to learn about them. From my mother’s vacuum cleaner to electronics from second hand stores, I always had something taken apart and put back together. It was the joy of fixing the vacuum or turbo charging the racecar, which propelled me into high tech product development and my calling.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can keep up-to-date on all things 5G and Motorola by visiting us @motorolaUS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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