Wired for impact: exploring connectivity and first response in action
Rafael Miranda Martin doesn't just break the stereotype of IT being stuffy and boring - he eliminates it.
Having grown up in Madrid, a city where heritage seamlessly intertwines with technology, he witnessed firsthand the concurrent development of innovation and technological advancements. It comes as no surprise, then, that he found himself drawn to a career in the tech sector as a network engineer.
”Technology was changing the world around me at a profound rate, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Rafael says.
As a child Rafael's natural curiosity meant that you could regularly find him taking apart any gadgets he could get his hands on to explore their inner workings. But this drive extended beyond a mere passion for technology; it was fueled by an insatiable thirst for knowledge as well.
“As a child and teenager, I dismantled everything in sight,” he says with a laugh.
"I had a deep longing to really understand the world surrounding me. I even devoured a myriad of subjects, from philosophy to politics. However, it became evident that it was technology and science that truly held the key to unlocking the answers I sought."
A pivotal moment in his own personal enlightenment occurred when his father gifted him his very first computer, unveiling its potential to connect to a vast network far beyond the world in which he grew up. This ignited his passion for exploring and experimenting with networks and the Internet, ultimately leading him to delve deeper into ’the network’.
Inspired to deepen his expertise, he obtained his CISCO certificate (CCNA) not long after. Then, after working with various –technology-focused companies, he found his spiritual home at Ericsson as an IP Networking Solutions Architect.
What is IP Networking Solutions Architecture?This field focuses on developing IP network solutions that empower customers with high-performance communication for their network services. It involves designing solutions for 5G implementation and managing services in the Operations Support Systems (OSS) to construct the communication transport that enables these services to operate seamlessly.
A pull in the right direction
Reflecting on his role, Rafael expresses: "being an IP Networking Solutions Architect has placed me at the forefront of shaping the digital infrastructure that connects individuals, communities, and nations. However, it was in 2013 that I discovered I could utilize my IP expertise to drive even more significant impact by becoming a part of Ericsson Response."
Established in 2000 and staffed by employee volunteers, Ericsson Response is a humanitarian relief program that supports temporary connectivity for humanitarian workers in disaster areas until local services have recovered. To date, Ericsson Response volunteers have provided critical support in more than 60 missions across 40 countries, including natural disasters like Hurricane Maria on the islands of Dominica and Puerto Rico, as well as Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
His work with Ericsson Response was the calling that he had always been waiting for – the opportunity to use his passion and expertise to help others
One of Rafael's most memorable experiences with Ericsson Response dates back to 2016 when he deployed to Nigeria. The mission focused on addressing the pressing issue of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) resulting from conflicts in the region.
As a member of the Ericsson Response program, Rafael played a crucial role in supporting the WFP-led Emergency Telecom Cluster (ETC) in it’s mandate to provide communication services to humanitarians like non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other UN agencies. He contributed with skills and Ericsson Response technology to connect various locations used by humanitarians to support displaced people.
“The ability to coordinate logistics and deliver aid relies heavily on effective communication. This is why providing essential connectivity services such as voice, radio, and Internet connectivity is of utmost importance – without communication, everything would grind to a halt. It is undoubtedly one of the most vital aspects,” he says.
While the work was demanding and included long hours in scorching temperatures as high as 52 degrees Celsius, there was a unique energy that kept him going – working together with like-minded colleagues all united in their efforts to do their best.
“Being directly involved in interacting with these individuals at the NGOs' base camp was an incredibly rewarding experience. One of the most critical aspects of our work was enabling communication for internally displaced people, allowing them to reconnect with their loved ones and stay informed about their well-being. By bridging the gap and reducing the barriers of space and distance, we were making a tangible impact. The immense challenges were diminished when communication was established, allowing us to bring assistance, hope, and connection to those who needed it the most – we know that thanks to the work done, many people have regained contact with their families after having to leave their towns and flee with nothing.”
He says feeling genuinely useful and knowing that we were part of something significant made the experience even more meaningful.
Today, the Maiduguri mission and camp, along with the IDP camps, remains active, even after Ericsson Response closed the mission.
Who is Ericsson Response suited to?Just like with Rafael, the Ericsson Response profile is well-suited for individuals who want to embrace a challenge.
“The overall experience proved to be incredibly fulfilling, especially for someone like me who possesses a passion for travel”, says Rafael, “as well as the strong desire to connect with people from various backgrounds and also are committed to change.”
Rafael also says in the past five years there has there been a notable shift in Ericsson's approach to volunteering, with the company placing increased emphasis on Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (SCR).
“This shift has brought greater visibility and awareness within the company regarding ongoing initiatives and opportunities to make a positive impact. Unlike some other companies where it may be challenging to discern how one can contribute to causes they deeply care about, Ericsson has taken steps to ensure employees are informed about what is happening and how they can actively participate.”
He says this increased focus on SCR has empowered individuals to engage meaningfully in issues that resonate with them.
“Before my engagement with Ericsson Response, I was unaware of the magnified impact that our daily work could have through participating in initiatives like this.”
His advice to others interested in volunteering for a similar program is to narrow down opportunities to areas where you can make a significant impact, whether by dedicating more time or maximizing your effectiveness.“Having a clear vision of your goals and understanding that there are numerous possibilities beyond Ericsson Response is essential. Volunteering doesn't always require embarking on distant missions; individuals with families or other commitments can contribute within their own cities or countries. The key is to remain focused on how you can make the most substantial difference.”
When asked why he chose to work on-site in Nigeria, Rafael explains, "We often overlook the challenges faced by our neighbors, and Africa is an incredibly unique continent. I have a deep appreciation for its wildlife, expansive landscapes and the close-knit communities and vibrant celebrations of life. It is in Africa where I truly feel a sense of belonging, as if a part of me is inexorably connected to this extraordinary place.”
Reflecting on the project, he says that his experience in Nigeria helped him truly understand the power of technology to improve lives.
Rafael strongly believes that harnessing the immense power of technology is pivotal in creating positive outcomes that transcend boundaries, bridge gaps, and bring people closer together within our increasingly interconnected global community.
“By leveraging technology's potential, we can overcome geographical barriers and cultivate a sense of unity among diverse cultures and backgrounds.”
It is through these transformative possibilities that Rafael firmly believes in the capacity of technology to drive societal progress and enhance the lives of individuals worldwide.
”In a world where every device, every network, and every individual is interconnected, the power of telecommunications becomes a catalyst for progress, unity, and transformation. It is this profound understanding that continues to fuel my passion and dedication to leveraging technology for the betterment of our interconnected world.”
Find out more about current Ericsson volunteer opportunities here.
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