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Women

Influential Iranian Women: Maria Khorsand (1957-)

December 6, 2023
IranWire
3 min read
Maria Khorsand, the “godmother” of Bluetooth technology
Maria Khorsand, the “godmother” of Bluetooth technology
In 2014, Maria Khorsand received the King's Medal for valuable contributions in Swedish business
In 2014, Maria Khorsand received the King's Medal for valuable contributions in Swedish business
Maria Khorsand has been an advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Communication for many years
Maria Khorsand has been an advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Communication for many years

These days, when we get a smartphone, we expect it to be equipped with Bluetooth, a short range wireless technology that allows exchanging data between devices.

The development of this technology that we take for granted was initiated in 1989 at the Swedish company Ericsson Mobile, but it took 10 years for the first Bluetooth device to be introduced to the market.

The technology was named after the 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth, but the project that gave birth to this technology was managed by an Iranian woman, Maria Khorsand.

Maria Khorsand was born in 1957 in the city of Sari, capital of Mazandaran province. She graduated from high school in 1974. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, 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 a 2004 interview with Mehr News Agency, Khorsand spoke about the problems she faced because of her Iranian nationality while in the United States. On one occasion she attended a job interview with a company affiliated with the US Department 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.

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 Unisys in Canada, she was quickly employed by Ericsson on arrival.

Asked why she had been chosen to manage the Bluetooth project, Khorsand 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 as 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 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 King's Medal for valuable contributions in Swedish business and has acted as advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Communication for many years.

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 now also a board member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the interim CEO of Careium, a leading player in technology enabled care in Europe.

 

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