Inder Singh was recently welcomed as the newest member of IonQ's Board of Directors, bringing with him a deep well of experience and a unique set of perspectives. We spoke to him after his first meeting with the IonQ Board of Directors to learn a bit more about his background and how he enhances this already-stellar group.
Due to his varied and international background, Singh speaks five languages, as well as the languages of engineering, management and investment. His father was an engineer who built large infrastructure projects around Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Hydroelectric dams and power grids. After leaving his native India at the age of four, his father’s career meant that Singh grew up across four different continents. As a young boy in Tripoli, Singh says that “even when I went to a school, which taught in English, the only way to socially interact with neighborhood friends was by learning Arabic... part of my schooling there included an Italian convent, which meant learning a little Italian along the way as well.”
Moving eventually to a boarding school in England which he described as “a sort of Hogwarts castle kind of a school on the top of a hill,” and then with high school and college in the US, Singh grew adept in both British and American English. Two degrees in engineering and an MBA helped to make him conversant in nearly all facets of the tech industry. Nine years spent as an analyst on Wall Street taught him how to be equally astute as an analyst of tech companies.
“Having that multicultural immersion experience has helped me from the beginning of my career," Singh explained, recalling how his multilingual ability allowed him to utilize his skills across the globe. “Companies would say, ‘he speaks Arabic, let’s send him to Riyadh to help with a commercial deal,’ and off I went.”
After his time as an analyst on Wall Street, Singh took on leadership roles at Comcast, Cisco, Unisys, and most recently at Arm, the semiconductor IP design powerhouse, where he currently serves as CFO. It isn't any one single thing about Singh that has made him valuable to so many organizations. It is his diversity of skills, perspectives and background.
“It comes in use in many ways,” Singh says about his diverse upbringing. :One, applying yourself and using your familiarity with different cultures. Also, importantly, realizing that really creative disruptive innovation requires creative disruptive thinking. That doesn't happen with groupthink. You have to have diversity of ideas... I believe that the future of technology lies in quantum over the next decade. As that shift happens, this is about attracting talent to the most frontier-edge technology that needs these best minds. The best mathematicians, the best algorithm writers, the best developers, the app community has to come together, and it has to be global.”
In the spirit of the academic environment that IonQ was born in at the University of Maryland, it is a diverse organization with engineers, researchers and board members recruited for being the best and brightest from around the world.
“What you see is that a lot of different minds from a lot of different walks of life are coming together at IonQ,” Singh says, “and they will work together to create global solutions with the goal of transforming the future of computing.”
Singh believes that each member of the IonQ Board of Directors plays a key role in making this magic come alive. He feels that much of his own role on the Board will come from his broad toolkit of global expertise and technology company experience.
“In my case it's about taking a look at everything from different angles,” Singh says. “It goes back to my Wall Street days where I had to analyze a company from every angle. I think this ability to clearly connect dots is what even the US government has looked for me to do for them over the years.”
“The fact that I've walked in the shoes of investors on Wall Street for nine years gives me a unique vantage point to think about things, whether it's a new product or a pricing strategy or a competitive position, whatever it might be, I like to help my company connect a need with the right solution. And then, equally, I like to ask, ‘what would our investors say?’ Ultimately the Board are stewards of investor capital.”
Singh has chosen to join the IonQ team and its Board of Directors because he believes in the future of quantum and he believes in Peter Chapman and his team’s ability to deliver.
“I believe strongly that IonQ will deliver on quantum’s promise,” Singh says. “It could happen at the pace that we are planning, it could happen faster, or even take a little bit longer. That is never something you can never predict with accuracy in terms of ‘will we meet every single milestone.’ But I have super-high confidence that the breadth and depth of talent that has assembled under the roof of IonQ to solve the challenge of quantum computing is what it's going to take to actually solve it. So I think the most exciting part of this is the discussions we're beginning to have even at my very first Board meeting. I couldn't be more excited about the journey ahead.”