WIL CO 2016 Keynote Interview: Clare Martin, VP of Programs, Surrey Satellite Technology US

Posted by Amy Dingle on 9/12/16 12:44 PM
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We are just a few days away! Clare Martin, Vice President of Programs for Surrey Satellite Technology US is our Keynote speaker for the event and is up on the WIL panelist blog series. Read Clare's interview questions below!

What was your dream job as a child and why?

Space; something in space – which varied from astronaut to astronomer to engineer – just something related to space. It was triggered by a book my mum bought me when I was about 11 or 12 on astronomy. That, and a love for science fiction, and there was no going back!

What has been your biggest professional challenge as a female leader?

That is an interesting question. If I think of what has been the most challenging as a female leader, i.e. an occasion when my gender was definitely part of the challenge, then it has to be related to earning the authority and respect of individuals in companies / countries where the culture is different from that at home – by which I mean, it is extremely male dominated. It meant working harder, yes; but also being respectful of the different culture and, if needed, adapting my approach to work for the successful business outcome.

Where did you go to college and what was your first job out of school?

I went to college in the UK, at the University of St Andrews for both my undergraduate degree and PhD. My very first job out of college was actually contract work as a computer programmer – needed to pay off a few of those college debts! But, I quickly transitioned into the UK civil service as a research scientist in the space department of the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (as it was called at the time).

Tell me about your professional career track?

It has been relatively simple, honestly. I started as a research scientist, which I then combined with some project management until moving into project management full time. Project and bid management of larger and more complex programs led into more of a business management role, which has culminated (so far!) in becoming a VP in the US operation. I have not jumped between many different companies – 7 years at the first, and approaching 10 years in the second – but I have evolved my role and focus every few years.

What advice do you have for young female professionals?
Trust yourself and trust your abilities. We all question ourselves at times, and that is a good thing – keeps yourself honest. And yet, we can do that too much, especially as women; don’t get lost inside your own mind!
Any advice on how to achieve a happy work-life balance?
Allow time for yourself and what is important to you. It sounds simple, but can be challenging when work deadlines and crises are looming. Those deadlines and crises will happen, but don’t let those extended hours become a habit.

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