I am the CEO of Fusion Space Technologies, where we integrate drone and satellite data using artificial intelligence.
The biggest career milestones for me have centred around education vs. industry experience. As a researcher and entrepreneur, there is a trade-off between jumping into problems and figuring it out as I go along, versus getting a formal education. I usually resolve these difficult decisions by thinking about what I most enjoy doing and following that path. If you are passionate about what you are doing and centre your passion around a good work ethic, success tends to follow.
I have been most influenced by people that I have come across that have done extraordinary things whilst achieving balance in their lives. Specific examples include firstly my A Level physics teacher who as a Nuclear Physicist in the United States, had a passion for science that was infectious. Secondly, the Head of Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University where I did my undergrad. Lastly, but not least, my mother for her never-ending advice and support of my crazy ideas.
Absolutely! Having a balanced lifestyle is very important to maintain high levels of work output. However, I’ve had prestigious engineering jobs that have had over 100 hour working weeks, and I now use balance as a main piece of criteria when choosing a new position.
I started my own company a year ago. I hired some people that I have been working with for several years and together we are building something incredible!
A day of a CEO in a start-up company is anything but typical. I could be talking to customers, making financial models, discussing stock options with my legal team, hiring new engineers or brainstorming on our algorithms with the technical team. All of which are fascinating and I am learning a lot, every single day.
My main job is to create an overall company strategy that aligns with the market outlook, customers, shareholders and company policies and ethics. Communicating this strategy to the team is very important, as is making sure that executing the strategy goes to plan. In particular, for a technical company, keeping on top of new breakthroughs is vital.
Main challenges for me right now include aligning the cool algorithms that the technical team can create with customers, and trying to commercialize them. Some of the technology we can create is very cool, but getting people to see the value of it and buy it can be very difficult.
Right now, artificial intelligence and robotics. But I’m biased!
Gender, racial and sexual biases in the workplace.
I have a combination of both very technical, aerospace specialization as well as a business and finance background. Therefore, I can talk to both business developers and engineers without feeling “lost”.
I studied Physics, Maths, French and Law. These somewhat influenced my career, but what I did outside of school had a much bigger impact. For example, when I was 15 I got selected to go to NASA Space Camp. That was an “aha” moment!
I have a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Queen’s University of Belfast), a certificate in Space Studies (International Space University, France), a Master of Aerospace Engineering (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA) and I am currently getting my MBA at the Harvard Business School.
All of my education has served useful in mostly one way- education has taught me how to “self-learn”. Learning how to learn, and to think critically, is the biggest thing I could have taken away from my education.
I am continually learning through my job. This summer, I spent some time at the European Space Agency learning the latest techniques in satellite data assimilation. Keeping up with technology is both fun and vital for my business.
I have had many rewarding events, ranging from seeing robotics that I created working autonomously, creating teams of brilliant people and getting my first investor funding for my company.
A very strong work ethic, the ability to think on my feet and creating lasting connections with varieties of people.
I am already doing my dream job!
Take a risk and see if you enjoy entrepreneurship. Creating a business in the STEM sector can be very rewarding.
Integrity, determination and stubbornness.
Any work experience in STEM is useful, particularly if paired with research and design (R&D), since this allows you to think on your feet when it comes to problem solving.