Career Profiles: Greg Johnson

Your name?
Gregory H. Johnson

Your job title?
President and Executive Director, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and former NASA astronaut.

What are the main tasks, responsibilities and skills required?
Lead the non-profit organization to achieve its mission to maximize utilization of the International Space Station for Earth benefit.

Describe a typical day?
No typical day. Conduct meetings to manage CASIS, interface with external partners and stakeholders, and communicate the importance of the mission to the industry and public.

What’s cool?
The extremely important mission.

What’s not so cool? What are the main challenges?
The extraordinary pace and diligence required to keep everyone on the same page. Political influences can also be troubling, especially when the source of background communications are unknown.

Who or what has most influenced your career direction?
Neil Armstrong, my father, and certain connections with key individuals at NASA.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
The requirements of my job have very often forced family life compromise, but I do my best to be present for the most important moments. Sometimes I fail. I hope I make up for my shortcomings in other ways.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?
Math and science. However, I knew I had challenges in the humanities, so I took extra classes in these areas to improve. Doing well in school always greatly influenced my success at the competition points. Transcripts chase you forever …

What is your education to date?
After High School I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984, a Master of Science in flight structures engineering from Columbia University in 1985, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Nothing stands out. A balanced education served me well, and that combined with hard work and a love/passion for my jobs (and a little luck along the way) was the recipe for me.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Do what you love and do it well. Don’t choose a path to “get somewhere else.” I suggest choosing paths that you love that can lead to additional paths you desire. Always work hard. Always be true to yourself.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Being a strong supportive follower can lead to leadership positions. Demonstrate and earn your way with hard work and support for the mission of your organization, whatever it may be.