Ms. Ford has received wide recognition in her field, having served on congressional commissions in the aerospace industry as well as on panels focusing on entrepreneurship and women in business. Her career progressed through positions of increasing responsibility preparing her for the key leadership position she holds today. Ms. Ford began her career as a guidance and control engineer for COMSAT (Communications Satellite Corporation) in 1978. She left COMSAT to become a project manager at the Aerospace Corporation, where her work with NASA on the Space Shuttle led to the recognition of "Woman of the Year" in 1984. Ms. Ford then joined Scitor Corporation where she successfully started and grew a satellite launch business area. In 1995, she founded Stellar Solutions and rapidly led it to international prominence as a leading global provider of aerospace engineering expertise.
Ms. Ford earned her BS from the University of Notre Dame and received her MS from Stanford University. She serves on several boards, including Foundry Networks, Bay Microsystems and California Space Authority. She is a member of the University of Notre Dame's Engineering Advisory Council and is involved with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Leadership Forum, United States Space Foundation, National Association of Women Business Owners and Vistage International. She is a frequent speaker at industry events. Celeste and her husband Kevin have three children and are active in their local community.
1) How did you get started in the satellite business?
My high school was strong in math and science and everyone said I should be an engineer. I looked in the college catalogs and saw Aerospace engineering and thought that sounded perfect as it was totally new information to learn (I did not like the idea of going to college to learn more about the same things I had already learned about i.e. history, biology, English etc.) My first job was as a guidance and control engineer on an international communication satellite in which I was able to get a great overview of the industry as a system engineer. There is nothing like a launch to make you feel like you had a job well done. No other career ever sounded good after that.
2) How have you been involved in changes brought about in or by this business (innovations, technologies, services)?
I've been involved in all sectors of the Aerospace industry. On the commercial front the advancement in communications over the years has had a positive global impact. In the NASA/Civil sector, many spin off technologies from our early Space Shuttle work have had positive impact in medicine, agriculture, automotive, etc. And in Defense and Intelligence…well, I'd tell you but I'd have to shoot you.
3) What do you think was the greatest event/situation/opportunity you experienced?
In retrospect, starting my own company, Stellar Solutions, was the greatest event in my career. We are about to have our 15th anniversary and the ability to focus on high impact work with high impact people has made a "stellar" difference to all of us, the people we work with, and the programs we support.
4) What was the greatest obstacle?
There are no obstacles, only opportunities in disguise.
5) What do you see happening in the next five years in this industry?
Bringing technology from space to solve the world's problems: providing an "unfair advantage" to our military to advance world peace, bringing communications anywhere, anytime for anyone and becoming a space faring nation that "goes where no one has gone before".
6) What advice do you have for women interested in entering the industry?
This is an exciting field where results are measured by what you accomplish, not just the hours you charge which is prevalent in many other fields (accounting, law, etc). There are great opportunities to make a difference and have work/life balance.
Women in Space
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