2019 FierceTelecom Rising Star — Microsoft’s Rimma Nehme

Microsoft's Rimma Nehme (Microsoft)

The FierceTelecom editorial team is proud to announce our Rising Stars series in which we’re profiling up-and-coming executives in the telecom industry. We’ve selected a slate of executives from services providers, public cloud companies and telco vendors whom we think are on the rise in 2019. We’ll be doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that our readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. And next week, we’ll post a Rising Stars poll, giving everyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite top executive to watch in the FierceTelecom ecosystem. We hope you enjoy the series!

Growing up in Russia, Rimma Nehme loved theater. But when she moved to the United States at age 16 she struggled to learn English and found that she excelled at math in school, which surprised her parents because math had never been her strong suit in Russia.

In college she studied computational mathematics and was introduced to computers for the first time. Her first job after college was working on storage systems for EMC in Boston, but Nehme believed her computer skills were lacking so she took night classes to help supplement her knowledge. 

While pursuing night school and earning her master’s degree, a professor suggested she get a doctorate degree so she quit her job in Boston and moved to Indiana so she could work on a Ph.D. at Purdue University. While at Purdue she reached out to Microsoft’s research group and started interning with the company during the summers. After earning her Ph.D. she began working for Microsoft full-time.

Today, Nehme is the Azure Cosmos DB product manager and architect at Microsoft where she is responsible for designing, building and evaluating new technologies for Microsoft database products.

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Nehme says that her current role is very rewarding because as a product manager she gets to see how the software Microsoft develops impacts its customers and different industries. “When I was a software developer writing code, I didn’t see how it impacted the world,” Nehme said.

As a female in a male-dominated field, Nehme says that she finds that people often don’t take her seriously at first. “I can see skepticism,” she said. However, she also believes that the industry is in the midst of a transformation with more women studying STEM topics. And she finds that encouraging for her young daughter. “I feel like I am paving the way for her. If she decides to follow me, she will see more people like herself.”