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Special Features

Iranian Women You Should Know: Maria Khorsand

June 9, 2020
Maryam Dehkordi
4 min read
Maria Khorsand is a leading global IT professional who had a hand in the development of Bluetooth technology
Maria Khorsand is a leading global IT professional who had a hand in the development of Bluetooth technology
On June 11, 2014, Maria Khorsand received the Honorary Medal of the Swedish Government for her valued efforts in business
On June 11, 2014, Maria Khorsand received the Honorary Medal of the Swedish Government for her valued efforts in business

Global and Iranian history are both closely intertwined with the lives and destinies of prominent figures. Every one of them has laid a brick on history's wall, sometimes paying the price with their lives, men and women alike. Women have been especially influential in the last 200 years, writing much of contemporary Iranian history.

In Iran, women have increased public awareness about gender discrimination, raised the profile of and improved women's rights, fought for literacy among women, and promoted the social status of women by counteracting religious pressures, participating in scientific projects, being involved in politics, influencing music, and cinema. And so the list goes on.

This series aims to celebrate these renowned and respected Iranian women. They are women who represent the millions of women that influence their families and societies on a daily basis. Not all of the people profiled in the series are endorsed by IranWire, but their influence and impact cannot be overlooked. These articles are biographical stories that consider the lives of influential women in Iran.

IranWire readers are invited to send in suggestions for how we might expand the series. Contact IranWire via email ([email protected]), on Facebook, or by tweeting us.

 

The first signs of the advent of smartphones appeared when a generation of cellphones hit the market, equipped with the capability for audio or video transfer technology between devices without the use of physical connectors.

Nearly two decades after the creation of Bluetooth, it has transformed into one of the most applicable technologies in the world of smart devices. Named by innovators at the world-famous Ericsson company in Sweden, after the Scandinavian king Harland Bluetooth, who connected Denmark and Norway, it is still used today despite the existence of other wireless technologies.

Today, everybody is familiar with Bluetooth technology and one seldom finds a cellphone in the world without it. But not many of its users know that the manager of Ericsson’s project was an Iranian woman, from Mazandaran Province. Maria Khorsand is one of the world’s leading information technology executives and an early pioneer of Bluetooth technology.

 

Flight to the United States

Khorsand is one of a number of the Iranian women active at the top tiers of the global IT industry. She was born in 1957 in the city of Sari and after graduating from high school in 1974, at the peak of internal political crises in 1980s Iran,  she emigrated to Los Angeles. From there she continued her studies at California Fullerton State University and received her master's degree in computer science from this institution.

Khorsand’s family, and particularly her mother, wanted her to return to Iran after her graduation. But Khorsand, as well as her sister who had also emigrated to the United States, preferred to continue living abroad.

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Khorsand has spoken about the problems she faced because of her Iranian nationality while in United States. On one occasion she attended a job interview with a company affiliated to the US Ministry of Defense, and once she revealed her nationality, she said, she was quietly excluded from the employment process. Nevertheless, she has never denied or concealed her Iranian roots.

 

A Titan in Her Adoptive Field

In the late 1980s, Khorsand met her future husband, a Swedish national at Fullerton University. After their marriage she moved to Sweden with him, and with her experience working at prestigious companies such as the Union Oil Company and Uniysis in Canada, she was swiftly employed by Ericsson on arrival.

Asked why she had been chosen to manage the Bluetooth project, Khorsand has said: "Nobody said anything about it, but I think my ambition and passion to tackle problems played a role.”

Khorsand has also held positions as the chief executive of SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, as president of financial markets at OMX Technology and the chief executive of Dell AB. Though she is now a globally-recognized figure in IT, Khorsand has said she initially had no interest in the sector – in fact, she had planned to study psychology – but “destiny” drew her to IT.

"Technology means to use all the tools which facilitate daily life,” she has said. “I am one of the advocates of this idea. Humans are the greatest assets and resources of any country. In all the companies that I worked in, no matter what my position and responsibilities were, I always tried my best, injecting all my efforts into the international community and industry."

The SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden operates in six areas: energy, information and communication technology, life sciences, risk and security, environment, and transportation. Under Khorsand’s presidency from 2007 to 2015, sales rose to $1.5 billion.

On June 11, 2014, Maria Khorsand received the Honorary Medal of the Swedish Government for her valued efforts in business and has acted as advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Communication for many years now.

Most of the projects carried out under Khorsand’s direction in recent years have been related to energy and the environment. This pioneering Iranian woman, who had a hand in the creation of a world-changing technology, is also now the acting president of EARTO: the European Association of Research and Technology Organizations.

 

Read other articles in this series:

Ghamar Aryan, Pioneering Scholar of Literature

Ashraf Bahador-Zadeh, Iran’s Mother Teresa

Razieh Ebrahimzadeh, Wanderer and Communist Firebrand

Malektaj Firouz Najm ol-Saltaneh, Founder of Tehran's First Modern Hospital

Mahd-e Olia, Proxy Queen of Iran

Zaynab Pasha, Leader of the Tobacco Protest

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