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Nurturing the Industry of Tomorrow: Conversations on Mentorship

In this series of roundtable Making Leaders podcasts, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla speaks with mentors, space & satellite executives, and future leaders of the industry about mentorship, lessons learned and how industry veterans can pave the way for a brighter future through their support of the next generation.

Episode 1: Guiding Future Leaders - Mentors in Conversation

This episode features a roundtable conversation between three world-class industry mentors: Dr. Peter Plumley, Tim Deaver and Rob Lyon.

Dr. Peter Plumley is the Chief Program Officer for the Museum of Science & Technology and a research professor of civil & environmental engineering at Syracuse University. Peter has an extremely broad portfolio of research and interests related to the environment of the Earth and space. His current research is focused on the man-made world and the impact of technology on our drive to invent and explore the impact of technology on society and civilization - as well as its overall impact on the environment.

Tim Deaver is the Director of US Space Systems at Airbus Defence & Space. Tim manages all US government space-related program management and customer liaison. Tim is a satellite industry veteran, having worked for SES, where he led business and product development and was responsible for securing many high-end contracts. He served in the US Air Force for over 20 years and holds degrees from the Universities of Nebraska and Colorado.

Rob Lyon is the Executive Director of Flight Assurance at Maxar. Rob decides when each of the spacecraft built is ready for launch. He began his career at the USA’s naval academy where – among other tasks – he qualified people to run nuclear reactors to eventually become the top operations officer in the pacific submarine fleet. Rob is a highly sought-after mentor in his company’s program. He earned his advanced degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Physics at the naval academy. Rob has had a distinguished career of nearly 15 years at Maxar, and in June of last year, he was named the space & satellite industry’s Mentor of the Year at SSPI’s annual Future Leaders Dinner in Silicon Valley, where he was introduced by Tim Deaver.

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Episode 2: Women Making a Better Satellite World

This episode features a roundtable conversation between three women mentors and leaders of the industry: Dr. Jennifer Dawson, Penelope Longbottom and Nicole Stott.

Dr. Jennifer Dawson is the Staff Functional Safety Engineer with the Toyota Research Institute.  Before that, she worked at Space Systems Loral as the Technical Director for Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites, as Head of Safety and Technical Program Manager at Nuro and as a researcher at Stanford University, where she developed a cryogenic test facility, conducted experiments on a superconducting position sensor, defined requirements, and fabricated and tested customized electrical connectors. Dr. Dawson received a Promise Award from SSPI in 2016 and was also responsible for nominating the 2019 Mentor of the Year, Rob Lyon, whom you heard from in Episode 1.

Penelope Longbottom is a member of the Space & Satellite Hall of Fame who has devoted her career to explaining satellites as one of the industry’s premiere public relations executives. She served in a variety of jobs, from Director of Communications and later Vice President at Hughes to Senior Marketing Communications Executive with Lockheed Martin Intersputnik, Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles and XM Satellite Radio. While at Hughes, Penelope was key to the promotion of DirectTV and America’s first Mobile Satellite System. She founded Longbottom Communications and merged the company with Sage Communications one decade later. Penelope has been a relentless advocate for more space for women in the industry and has been a mentor to dozens.

Nicole Stott was seen recently in super bowl commercial with Busy Philipps and Lilly Singh riding the first Olay rocket! It was her third mission to space. Nicole is a retired NASA astronaut who performed two important missions on the International Space Station, where she served as flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21. She was a Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle Missions 128 and 133. Nicole began her career as a Structural Design Engineer with Pratt & Whitney.  She was the first astronaut to have a picture taken with the SSPI logo from space.

Episode 3: Inside a Giant

This episode features a roundtable conversation between two men whose careers have taken them to the top of their respective professions at some of the industry’s largest corporations: Chris Emerson and Ben Levine. They share with us the unique advantages and challenges of mentorship “inside a giant.”

Airbus is an international company and a leader in designing, manufacturing and delivering aerospace products. And with 133,671 employees, it certainly qualifies as a giant.

Its US Space & Defence Group is led by Chris Emerson. Chris has served as president of the group since 2019, where he oversees the operations and strategy of all its companies in the USA. He also serves as Chairman of the Board.

Founded in 1948 by David Ogilvy, this ad agency can be found in 132 offices in 83 countries around the world. Adweeks’ Agency of the Year in 2016, Ogilvy’s client list is long and ranges from American Express to Ikea to Samsung.

Ben Levine serves as Executive Partner and Head of Global Partnerships from Ogilvy's main office in New York. He is responsible for developing and growing strategic relations across the Ogilvy Group, its parent company WPP and external networks to find greater value for its clients. Ben also serves as Global Client Leader for the agency.

Episode 4: To Be Young Again

This episode features a roundtable conversation with four of the youngest and brightest stars of the future in the commercial space & satellite industry. Clémentine Decoopman, Sajit Jumani, Jomya Lei and Jeremy Turpin are all members of the 2019 “20 Under 35” cohort, chosen for their initiative, creativity and problem-solving skills that has led to outstanding achievements in the industry before the age of 35.

Clémentine Decoopman is Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). Since joining SGAC, Clémentine has proposed many creative strategies for seeking agreements with sponsors and developing the future space workforce and has implemented them successfully by negotiating with key stakeholders and reaching out to non-traditional space actors as well. She was instrumental in establishing the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN OOSA) and SGAC, an agreement under which SGAC and the UN OOSA committed to work jointly in supporting young people in line with the Secretary General’s ‘Youth 2030 strategy,’ launched in September 2018. UNOOSA and SGAC delivered a global ‘Space for Youth’ Competition aimed at engaging youth in the discussion of how space science and technology can be used to power the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Sajit Jumani is Vice President of Business Development and Finance at GEOshare. He began his career in the Lockheed Martin Operations Leadership Development Program, where he completed rotations in manufacturing, sustainment, quality, sourcing and international business development, honing a wide variety of skills. After graduating from the program, Sajit completed his MBA at UNC Chapel Hill and led the development of international strategy for Lockheed Martin Space before joining GEOshare as a Manager. He rose to a position of Director and then Vice President of Business Development and Finance in only three years of working at GEOshare, taking on responsibility for eighteen major customers. Sajit’s professional responsibilities include managing customer relationships, collaborating directly with customers on the development of their requirements, and providing financial options that suit the customers’ individual business needs.

Jomya Lei is Lead Payload Systems Engineer at The Boeing Company. Her responsibilities include interfacing with customers, suppliers, cross-functional team members and senior leadership to execute on the project spanning the entire lifecycle: negotiating low-level designs, managing system risks/opportunities, product manufacturing and specification validation/verification.  Jomya was an instrumental member of the team that negotiated Boeing’s Kacific partnership and joined the program team once it was secured. She currently serves as Lead Payload Systems Engineer on the Kacific-1 and JCSAT-18 programs, which aim to provide affordable broadband communications to Japan and countries in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Jeremy Turpin is CTO and Co-Founder of Isotropic Systems and a new member of SSPI’s Board of Directors, pending election by the membership in June. He began his career as the president and founder of E x H, Inc., where he was responsible for software development and commercialization of the ray-tracing software package for modelling, design and optimization of inhomogenous optical devices. Jeremy became a co-founder of Isotropic Systems after recruiting a CEO for E x H and took on the role of Chief Technology Officer, a position in which he leads the company’s Lens Array Antenna product development activities. He is responsible for all of Isotropic’s engineering activities, recruiting, IP protection and patent filings and development of new applications of the Isotropic Lens Array technology.