Verizon’s Sanyogita Shamsunder

Sanyogita Shamsunder is a FierceWireless Rising Star. (Image: Verizon, Ulza/iStock)

Sanyogita Shamsunder describes herself as someone who can push a rock uphill. As Verizon’s VP of 5G/digital ecosystem and innovation, Shamsunder's current “rock” is the carrier’s 5G fixed wireless network, set for commercial launch in four U.S. cities this year.

Shamsunder was a leader in the rollout of Verizon’s LTE network, consistently rated among the fastest and most reliable in the country. Now she is charged with maintaining Verizon’s leadership position as the industry moves to the next generation of wireless technology.

The team Shamsunder manages is off to a strong start. Verizon is reporting non-line-of-sight millimeter wave transmissions of 2,000 feet, in excess of many initial projections.

RELATED: Verizon: 5G launch will feature proprietary equipment and a new OTT video service

Staying ahead of the competition is a key motivator for Shamsunder. During her early days at Verizon, she clearly remembers fielding questions about why Verizon didn’t have the new iPhone. (Those questions came from her classmates at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she attended weekend classes to earn an MBA to complement her PhD Summa Cum Laude in electrical engineering.)

Four years later, Shamsunder oversaw the launch of Verizon’s first LTE smartphone. Shamsunder was then promoted to director of wireless and technology planning, where she planned spectrum use for 21 different regions. Then, in 2015, she was promoted to her current position as director of 5G planning. Under her leadership, Verizon took a lead role in the development of 5G and created its own pre-standard 5G in order to get to market faster. With a commercial launch set for this year, Shamsunder's latest rock may be about to crest another hill.

<--Executives to watch: 13 rising stars of wireless in 2018

Verizon’s Sanyogita Shamsunder