Iridium COO Suzi McBride joins as Descartes Labs’ newest board member
Aug 27, 2019 · 2 min read
We are thrilled to welcome Suzi McBride as our first independent director. Descartes Labs has an ambitious goal of understanding global natural resources by building a digital twin of the planet. We were looking for a board member with the operational expertise to help the company achieve that mission. In Suzi, we found someone with deep satellite domain knowledge, who has worked at both fast-growing startups and held senior leadership positions at large public companies, and knows how to build and grow a business. As someone who has worked for 25+ years in the satellite and telecommunication sectors, Suzi has an appreciation for the amount of geospatial data being created and the need for a supercomputer in the cloud to analyze that data in real-time. Her vast experience and guidance will undoubtedly support us in the challenges and successes that lie ahead.
Suzi started her career as an engineer, building and launching satellites and telecom networks. Currently, Suzi is the chief operations officer of Iridium, where she is responsible for leading all network operations, including the satellite constellation and associated ground gateways and terminals, as well technological innovation including the development and manufacturing of subscriber equipment, new services, and applications. Before this role, she served as the COO of OneWeb building a large constellation of satellites to provide affordable high-speed internet. During this time she helped raise $2.5B in funding, built up OneWeb’s team of engineers and oversaw the system design, production and testing of the ground and space networks as well as user terminal development.
We sat down with Suzi for an informal Q&A with her to dig into what she is most looking forward to:
What attracted you to Descartes Labs?
Suzi: The opportunity to help grow an innovative company full of rich talent in the geospatial space. There are mountains of untapped satellite/ground data, and with the right application of AI, it can be turned into critical usable information for companies, government, market, and public sectors. This is a new hot area right now, and you are hitting the market at just the right time and most importantly with a fantastic team, product offerings, and inventive spirit. You’ve got what’s needed to thrive in this new space.
What goals are you trying to achieve by joining the board?
Suzi: I am looking forward to being a different type of mentor for Mark and the leadership team at Descartes Labs. VCs have a bit more of a consultant approach and proper focus on their investment. Whereas being independent, I can empathize with the operational challenges and needs of a company to help ensure the team stays laser-focused on execution and delivery while building the company. Descartes Labs has what it takes to make it big, and I look forward to being able to provide an unbiased view to the board to ensure success.
What opportunity are you most excited about in joining Descartes Labs?
Suzi: Not only do I believe deeply in the work you are doing, I love your team. They are the secret sauce that will see Descartes Labs into a prosperous future. I am excited to watch that success unfold and hopefully learn and grow more myself in the process.
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