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Issue 15
issue pic Sabrina Cubbon
General Manager, Marketing
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited

Graduated from University of Manchester, United Kingdom with a Masters degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, specialised in digital encryption, Mrs. Cubbon joined AsiaSat in August 1992 as Regional Manager responsible for overseeing the development of business opportunities in several countries in the region. She was appointed as General Manager, Marketing in December 1993 responsible for leading AsiaSat's sales and marketing team into a more competitive and challenging environment. Her present responsibilities include sales and marketing, business development, corporate affairs and market research.

Prior to joining AsiaSat, Mrs. Cubbon held various major account marketing positions with UK based Case Communications and Australia based Datacraft. She has over 24 years of successful marketing experience in the competitive telecommunications industry in Asia. She specialises in digital communications and has published several research papers on encryption technology.

1) How did you join the satellite industry? What was your first assignment?

I joined the satellite industry totally by accident. After I had my second child, I was looking for work and found a job advertisement in the South Morning China Post. It turned out to be a position working for Andrew Jordon, who was then at AsiaSat. My position was 'Regional Manager' that included Hong Kong & ASEAN. Prior to joining AsiaSat, I had four years of sales experience with CASE Communications, where I sold data equipment (i.e. modem, multiplexer, X.25 interface equipment, etc.); and before CASE Communications, I worked at an Australian company, Datacraft.

I earned two degrees: 'Electrical Engineering' and 'Cryptography'. When I studied at the University of Manchester, I was one of only four female students in my engineering classes. Since my father didn't have a college degree, he could not imagine a profession for his daughter studying electrical engineering. My flat-mates at the university thought I was odd…because engineering students had to work much harder than students majored in history, language, or anthropology. For example, I had to write lab reports after a long day in classes. On the only 'free day' of the week, Wednesday, I was always catching up on lab reports or studying…with no time for social life. As for me, I didn't have a professional goal at the time, though I knew I was good at science and mathematics. And, I thought electrical engineers would work in a more pleasant environment than civil engineers who worked at one of those construction sites.

2) How have you been involved in changes (innovations, technology, services)? Why did you stay?

The revenue growth and brand recognition for Asiasat are my biggest achievements. I'm very proud of our brand...Asiasat is recognized worldwide as the quality brand with know-how in Asia. When I joined AsiaSat, I was the 18th employee. Asiasat had only one satellite and the business was transponder leasing. Today, we have nearly 154 employees, three operational satellites, and a wide range of service arrangement throughout Asia. The company has evolved through a few restructures over the years, it's still growing.

Asiasat introduced me to a new horizon, where I could use my knowledge and experience to understand the client needs and situations and liaison with my engineering/technical associates. Through my experience, I observed that engineers are not expressive and don't know how to probe or reach out to the clients. As a result, I played a vital role in filling this gap.

Having studied science and mathematics in a male dominated field, I grew up with boys vs. girls. I learned to work comfortably with men. As a woman in a male dominated industry, I stand out! I can express ideas and concepts well…as a result; clients prefer to deal with me. Clients will share their ideas with me about competition, needs, and problems. With good information, I have the opportunity to work-out solutions.

My priority is to do a good job, get the job done professionally. I don't worry about stereotyping, politics, and competition. Of course, I also have a soft side…I can step out of the boss role and become one of the people. And, I am a family person with my own daily family demands. I am human, and I learn from mistakes.

My boss, Peter Jackson, gives me freedom to suggest and implement ideas. We are a relatively small company, without a lot of internal politics. There is a good professional relationship among associates that is essential for building respect among peers. I believe Asiasat is the best company in the region offering a strong brand and quality service, there is no better place to work. Time flies when you enjoy your work.

3) Could you share an experience where you failed, though the lesson learned impacted your career?

I've made many mistakes through my career. For example, I was motivated to negotiate for the highest prices with regard to client contracts. Then I learned that my view was short-term because clients broke contract terms or renegotiated at will and the company could not manage its revenue forecast from one year to another. As a result of this situation, I learned to adapt to a pricing strategy that had a long-term perspective.

I also made many mistakes in hiring, and it is still a challenge for me today. It is difficult to qualify a candidate over an interview. There are many exceptional resumes and good job interviews, but few have the passion in the business. I find myself disappointed whenever I see employees making decisions based on a narrow perspective or short-term situation, ignoring the longer term business consequences and possibilities. I guess the best way to describe it is…I expect employees to 'treat the business as his/her own business.'

4) Fast forward 5-10 years, what do you see as opportunities and challenges for women? What skills will be critical for women in leadership role?

There are plenty of opportunities for women. There are women in many businesses today, doing a good job. I believe women are as smart as men, if not smarter. Women generally can visualize a big or small picture; whereas, men are generally best in creating the big picture…not the small things.

With respect to skills…I believe managing people will be a priority. And, women have to develop technology savvy as well as market understanding. It is very important to bridge technology and market development to be successful in this global economy. For example, timing of product introduction is very important for market acceptance and success.

Asiasat supports college internship program. Each year, we recruit two or three college students who work for a 12-month period before they complete their college curriculum. We have invited selected students to return as a 'full-time employee' after they graduate. It's a successful program.


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Issue No. 15:
Women in Space

Spring 2009

General Editor Introduction

From the Guest Editor

Audrey Allison, Dir., Frequency Management Services, Boeing Shared Services Group

Anita Antenucci, Managing Dir. Houlihan Lokey's Aerospace-Defense-Government

Dr. Wanda M. Austin Pres. & CEO, The Aerospace Corporation

Julie Bannerman, Gen.Counsel, Space Systems/Loral, Inc.

Sharri Berg, Senior V.P., News Operations, Fox News

Leslie Blaker, DataPath, Inc.

Yvonne Brill, Consultant, Satellite Tech. & Space Propulsion Systems

Michelle Bryan, Senior V.P., Human Resources, Intelsat

Dr. Angie Bukley, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering

Catherine Chang, General Counsel & Asst. Company Secretary, AsiaSat

Sabrina Cubbon, Gen. Manager, Marketing, AsiaSat

Yvette Dominguez, Manager, Payload Design Engineering Section, Space Systems/Loral, Inc.

Chris Ehrenbard, Dir., Broadcast Distribution, CBS

Mary Ann Elliot, Chairman of the Board, Arrowhead Global Solutions, Inc.

Celeste Ford, Founder & CEO, Stellar Solutions, Inc.

Mary Frost, former CEO, GlobeCast America

Eilene Galloway, NASA Pioneer

Carmen González-Sanfeliu, V.P., Latin America & Caribbean, Intelsat

Dawn Harms, V.P., Marketing & Sales, Space Systems/Loral, Inc.

Ellen Hoff, Pres., W.L. Pritchard & Co., L.C.

Polly Rash Hollis, Satellite Industry Professional

Britt Horncastle, Satellite Consultant

Susan Irwin, Pres., Irwin Communications, Inc.

Barbara Jaffe, Senior V.P., Advanced Technology and Operations, HBO

Christine King, Deputy V.P., Technical Services & Engineering, Lockheed Martin

Betsy Kulick, Newsletter Editor & Corporate Secretary, Mobile Satellite Users Association

Penelope Longbottom, Founder & Pres., Longbottom Communications

Joanne Maguire, Exec. V.P., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company

Andrea Maléter, Technical Dir., Futron Corporation

Joan T. Mancuso, Founder & Executive, Broadband International LLC

Dolores Martos, V.P., Sales for Latin America & Caribbean, SES Americom - SES New Skies

Brig. Gen. Susan K. Mashiko, Vice Commander, Space & Missile Systems Center, L.A. Air Force Base

Eileen McGowan, Corporate Strategy & Planning, Intelsat

Olwen Morgan, Development Engineer

Bridget Neville, V.P. & Gen. Manager, Satellite Engineering & Operations, Sirius XM Radio

Christine Paape, V.P., Space Explorers, Inc.

Rhonda Parson, Manager, Occasional-Use Sales & Traffic Division, EchoStar Satellite Services

Maj. Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Deputy Dir., National Reconnaissance Office

Jane Petro, Kennedy Space Center Deputy Director

Dr. Nongluck Phinainitisart, D.Eng., Pres., Thaicom PLC

Mary Quagliotti, Retired Major General, Army

Radhika Ramachandran, Ph.D., Counsellor (SPACE) & Technical Liaison Officer

Veena Rawat, Pres., Communications Research Centre, Canada

Joslyn Read, V.P., Regulatory Affairs, SES Americom - SES New Skies

Walda Roseman, Founder & CEO, CompassRose International, Inc.

Farah Suhanah Ahmad Sarji, General Counsel, MEASAT

Jacqueline Schenkel, Founder, Schenkel & Associates, LLC

Kay Sears, Pres., Intelsat General

Gwynne Shotwell, Pres., SpaceX

Marcia Smith, Pres., Space Technology Policy Group, LLC

Pascale Sourisse, Gen. Manager, Land & Joint Systems Division, Thales

Andy Steinem, CEO, Dahl-Morrow International

Nicole P. Stott, Astronaut, NASA

Bambi Taskarelli, Voice/Data Engineer, NBCU

Leslie Taylor, Strategic Planning Division Office of Spectrum Management, NTIA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Synette Tom, Marketing Dir., Sales, Space Systems/Loral, Inc.

Marjorie Rhodes Townsend, Satellite Communications Consultant

Diane Tryneski, Senior V.P., Broadcast & Studio Operations, HBO

Diane VanBeber, V.P., Investor Relations, Corporate & Marketing Communications, Intelsat

Barbara Warren, Systems Analyst, International Telecommunication Union

Zhang Yan, Gen. Manager, CITICSat and Chief Rep., Asiasat

UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology: Astronomy Blog

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