Sohrab Modi ’89 (computer science)

Current position: Vice President and CTO, Central Research and Development, Huawei (

Career path: Modi moved to the Bay Area shortly after receiving his M.S. from RIT to accept an engineering position at Novell Inc. He joined Sun Microsystems as an architect and was later the director of engineering for their Sun Cluster products (1995-2003), then as VP and general manager of N1 systems for Sun (2004-2006). “N1 was cloud computing in its infancy.”

Modi served as VP at Sun’s Corporate Chief Technology Office, from 2006-2009. His responsibilities included driving an effort around distributed web technologies such as Hadoop, Bigtable/hbase, and scaleout of MySQL and its relationship to cloud computing. He was also involved in Sun’s public cloud service.

Modi left Sun in 2009 to become VP of R&D at Huawei, a global networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in China.

He is responsible for technical strategy and planning for all the functions of Central Research & Development (software, hardware, energy, network and wireless). Modi also is involved in Huawei’s initiatives in Open Compute, Bigdata and carrier developer capture (OpenAPI’s / telecom API’s).

“Huawei is a very, very fast-growing company, very dynamic,” he says. “It’s a learning experience.”

On the Bay Area: “The Bay Area is the hub not only for computer technology but also biotech. There’s a lot of technology focus, but there’s also a lot of diversity, and the area has a lot of history is also very strong in the arts.”

Remembering RIT: Modi received a B.S. in physics from the University of Mumbai and decided to come to the U.S. for grad school. “RIT came very highly recommended.”

“What RIT taught me was the ability to think differently. The ability to understand people is much more important than just understanding technology, after all it’s the people that make the technology.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Currently resides in: Oakland, Calif.