Q&A with Preeti Sharma: Why Innovation Is About Taking Small Steps Consistently

Synopsys Editorial Staff

Mar 06, 2024 / 5 min read

For Preeti Sharma, a senior manager of R&D in the Systems Design Group at Synopsys, innovation is about taking small steps consistently. She should know, as the small steps she and her team recently took resulted in a big speed-up in the development of complex automotive SoC prototypes. This effort earned the team a winning proposal recently at a Synopsys employee competition spotlighting the company’s shared spirit of innovation.

Sharma, who has worked at Synopsys for the last 11 years, and a career spanning 18+ years, has long been passionate about technology. Her interest was sparked when she got her first personal computer while earning her computer science and engineering degree from the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology, BHU, Varanasi. Opening the machine up for a look inside, she was excited to get a better understanding of its software and how its mechanics work. This excitement later extended to the hardware aspects as well. From there, she knew that a career in the electronics industry (exploring a combination of software and silicon) was the right path for her.

preeti sharma synopsys

Preeti Sharma is passionate about technology, innovation, and a continued pursuit of excellence.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this Friday, we can find inspiration from Sharma’s career journey so far. We recently chatted with her about her passion for technology, the automotive SoC prototype project, and her advice for other engineers who want to bring their ideas to life.


 automotive soc design

Q: What inspires your passion for technology?

A: Computing intrigued me and made me think about how so much information in the world can be processed by this small machine. I consider myself lucky to have started my career in electronic design automation, where I’ve continued to learn, utilize my skills, and go beyond computers to see how the overall electronics industry works and how this technology is impacting every part of our lives.

At Synopsys, I’ve had opportunities to work in virtual prototyping and, more recently, in automotive solutions, where I’ve built up a team of engineers. Working on challenging projects and learning new things always motivate me. 

Q: How did your work in automotive SoC prototypes come about? And how do these prototypes help Synopsys customers?

A: Smart cars are the future, and at their foundation are silicon chips. To achieve an optimal chip design, designers utilize virtual prototyping, which mimics the architecture of the chip to provide a model that can be used to develop the vehicle’s software while the actual chip itself is under development. However, developing a virtual platform has not been an efficient task, so our team set out to accelerate the process.  

We recognized that there’s a lot of repetitive manual and error-prone work to create a virtual prototype, so we developed various flows and automation layers for different steps, reducing manual efforts by nearly 72% and resulting in a 5x to 7x productivity gain. Through this speed-up, we’ve been able to deliver high-quality virtual prototype SoCs very quickly, which enables our customers to achieve faster turnaround times through quick software development and completion, resulting in better business in return.

Q: What was your team’s process in developing this novel approach for SoC prototype development?

A: We recognized that, when it comes to developing virtual prototypes for automotive chips, there had to be a faster manner to do it, one that could also result in improved quality, as customer software development cycles are very short with expectations of optimal functionality and the least amount of bugs. We leaned on our innovation mindset and worked closely together, brainstorming ideas and committing additional effort to improve the process. Driving innovation requires passion, relentless dedication, and hard work, as time is always short with ongoing customer commitments. A small amount of time invested today can yield big benefits tomorrow. This team philosophy enabled us to develop our innovation in parallel and achieve breakthrough results with time.

soc prototyping team

Preeti Sharma (far right) and her team developed a faster way to create automotive SoC prototypes.


Q: In your perspective, what drives innovation?

A: My general philosophy for life, which I also apply to technological innovation, is that we can always improve. I always feel I have to be a better version of myself each day. Innovation is about continuous thinking and exploring, and also accepting there are challenges. Innovation is also about taking very small steps, and continuing to build that road forward to achieve the goal. I love this quote: ”To achieve success, the goal must be clear, the path must be proper, and the traveler must be capable.” Start with small steps on identifying, defining, refining, and then solving any problem. With time, all these steps get combined to deliver results and make big impacts. 

Q: How do you manage the challenging moments that can occur during the process of creating something new?

A: A mindset focused on innovation helps and so does recognizing that thinking outside the box is not straightforward. I always believe that if I can do something, anyone can, but the idea is to see how I can do it better every time. Also, sometimes you don’t see the benefits of all the upfront efforts until later down the road. Hence, we should never give up; perseverance and self-belief go a long way. The baseline is that our intention must be pure with complete integrity and honesty. I am also thankful that I have a few great people around me personally and professionally who are huge inspirations.

Q: What’s your advice for engineers who have ideas that they’re interested in turning into working products?

A: No idea is a bad idea, but the clarity has to be there. They have to internalize that the idea must be feasible, practical, and add to the overall business growth of their company. They need to have some type of charter on how to go about it. Think it through and plan out how you will go from this step to the next step (one step at a time helps). Talk with peers and mentors. At times, we can get lost in our daily work, but we should always be welcoming new ideas and be passionate about our ideas and the belief that these can come to life with the right improvisation and time. 

Q: You've also been involved in inclusion and diversity initiatives at Synopsys. What drives your passion towards this cause?

A: Since childhood, my parents have taught me that I can achieve anything in life that I want to, learning at each step and improving myself. In this journey, the feeling of not being below anyone due to any reason has always given me the right confidence and motivation to keep moving forward, despite challenges and setbacks. Such a conducive environment based on competency, positivity, equality, fairness, and a ‘Yes...If’ mindset can do wonders. I strive to enable the same environment for everyone around me and beyond based on my capacities and span of change. When we are inclusive, we not only make better teams, better products, better companies, and a better industry but also a much better world! 

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