Successful businesswomen inspire, mentor, and direct others towards achieving success. They are honest and adhere to moral or ethical principles. These leaders constantly learn and improve themselves, while responsibly accepting the consequences of their actions. They never give up at the face of adversity and always come up with unique solutions to any problem.
One such persistent business leader driven to reach the peak of excellence is none other than Maha Achour, the Founder, CEO and CTO of Metawave. She is a senior leader with more than 25 years’ experience in both public and entrepreneurial start-up companies in the RF, wireless, optics, and networking industries.
Maha Achour has a demonstrated track record of developing an idea from basic concept to product, delivering industry leading technologies, building teams and companies. Her strong technology background combined with leadership, business, and marketing skills enable her to tackle challenging problems across multiple industries.
She has pioneered the first broadcast HDTV system over satellite, mm-wave/Free-Space Optical systems for last mile connectivity and led various DARPA projects in wireless MIMO and Optical devices.
A Resilient Leader
Maha Achour believes that it is important to follow one’s passion, which should be dynamic, rather than static. According to her, pursuing a venture for mere financial returns is a fruitless affair. It would bear no positive outcomes, while wasting time and resources. Maha Achour finds inspiration in legends such as Arthur C. Clarke, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein.
Building resilience during the pandemic by being constantly proactive from managing the team remotely, to resource allocation and pursuing funding was one of the most challenging experiences for her. As a leader, she had to follow her instincts to keep her head above the water and swim against currents to success. Maha Achour deems that true leadership is demonstrated during these difficult times that make individuals stronger and more determined to succeed.
In her opinion, women in general tend to react on emotion. Decoupling emotion during tough decision-making times is not an exact science. It takes experience and multiple failures to master this obscure process.
She states, “Going through the 2009 recession taught me many lessons that I faced in 2020. This time I came triumphant along with my team.” The second factor behind the success of her company is the focus on the well-being of every team member and their families while being productive since start-ups cannot afford delay or slowdown in product deliveries.
Overcoming Challenges Creatively
According to Maha Achour, female leaders need to work 1000 times harder to build trust and confidence compared to male leaders. Circumstances may become even more difficult; however, she constantly focuses on solving the key industry challenges the right way by utilizing advanced and innovative technologies.
The nature of the problems the company is solving, forces each team member to think outside the box to build products. Since Metawave is a multi-disciplinary organization, Maha Acour also prefers to empower her leads instead of placing executives to manage them.
Metawave is a wireless technology company that builds intelligent and high-performance automotive radars by leveraging metamaterials and AI. Established in 2017, it seeks to revolutionize the future of wireless communications.
The company aims to develop and deploy novel, multidisciplinary, and smart technologies that solve core problems facing big markets to allow for better, faster, higher bandwidth communication and safer transportation while meeting consumer price and convenience expectations.
Leveraging adaptive metamaterials and artificial intelligence, Metawave’s primary market focus is to build intelligent beamsteering radars for autonomous driving. Changing the way automakers think about radar, the company is building high-performance radars capable of 3D imaging and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, making autonomous cars safer, smarter, and more connected.
Simultaneously, Metawave is also developing smart beamsteering antennas for 4G and 5G networks to provide faster networks and near-instant connectivity for billions of users.
Embracing AI for Endless Possibilities
Under Maha Achour’s astute leadership, Metawave is working on e-mobility, connectivity, and their convergence to smart cities and infrastructure using long-range imaging radar with AI capabilities and 5G passive reflector & amp repeaters for broader coverage and higher capacity networks.
Metawave is solving the most challenging problems facing autonomous vehicles with radar and perception engine, SPEKTRA™ radar module. “This is the first automotive, hybrid (analog + digital) beamsteering radar capable of distinguishing between and labelling objects that are closely positioned at long ranges, operational in difficult driving scenarios and in all-weather conditions, making cars safer and smarter”, states Maha Achour.
The fundamental mission of the AI team is to enable algorithm-like object detection using its custom radar hardware. The company aims to apply deep learning to this problem because deep learning has made some powerful advances in the last decade. Therefore, Metawave is the first and only one to demonstrate real-time AI algorithm at the edge for object classification to label objects at these long ranges and in all operating conditions compared to cameras and lidars.
Going the Extra Mile
Maha Achour leads Metawave to solve every problem the right way to guarantee that autonomous driving safety is met properly. She believes, “Today’s competitors are solving problems the conventional way so they cannot meet our performances.” However, in her opinion, it is a matter of time for the big players to follow Metawave’s footsteps. Therefore, the company has built a strong IP portfolio with over 200 patent application filings and first eleven issued/ allowed.
She believes that the industry’s fascination with cameras and lidars is fully expected to rise after multi billions of dollars investment in the past decade. While the automotive industry continues to suffer from COVID-19 economic and lock-down impacts, 5G is thriving due to the need for increased data speed.
Maha Achour further adds, “On the delivery side, we are seeing faster deployment of autonomous trucks for long haul delivery.” These two areas of focus have kept the team busy working closely with prospective customers during trials and testing.
Leading Metawave During the Pandemic
For Maha Achour, her team’s safety is of the highest priority. Accordingly, Metawave has allowed its employees to work remotely to minimize the number of people onsite. For those who need to be onsite, the company adopts strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus according to local public health guidelines (social distancing, wearing face covers, washing hands, sanitizing frequently).
She states, “We also group our employees in high/mid/lower-priority groups to avoid having everyone in the office simultaneously until the situation further improves. We stay connected as a company and with our customers utilizing tools such as Zoom, MS Teams and Slack.”
Opinions about the Industry
Maha Achour believes that shared mobility in urban areas has made it more economical for the consumers to move around at lower cost per miles than owning a car. However, shared mobility providers suffer from high cost of drivers; hence, there is a demand for driverless robo taxis. While on the connectivity side, consumer hunger for higher data speed at today’s age has created a dilemma and COVID-19 has further accelerated this push.
She further adds that on the enterprise side, governments and municipalities desire to architect smart cities, roads, factories, homes, and infrastructure. Accordingly, they are pushing wireless telcos to accelerate 5G deployment with its low latency feature at the edge. While the automotive industry continues to suffer from COVID-19 economic and lock-down impacts, 5G is thriving due to the need for increased data speed.
She states, “On the delivery side, we are seeing faster deployment of autonomous trucks for long haul delivery. These two areas of focus have kept our team busy working closely with prospective customers during trials and testing.”
Advice for the Emerging Entrepreneurs
Maha Achour advises the young entrepreneurs to be prepared and to always think 10 years ahead. She says, “Don’t search for opportunities – rather, learn, observe and dare to ask the first simple question instead. Focus inward to find your passion then adapt to mainstream and realize that passion evolves with time.” She suggests them not to give up because the pressure is too great. Failures and learning from them is the only recipe for future success.
Towards a Glorious Future
Under the responsible leadership of Maha Achour, Metawave plans to grow the business while exploring opportunities. It aims to leverage 3rd parties support until volume productions scale to numbers that justify growing to larger organization in employees’ headcounts and geographical locations. Maha Achour plans to involve herself in technology and product roadmaps working closely with her technical leads.