Prior to joining Space Systems/Loral, Ms. Harms was the product-line manager for commercial communications Traveling Wave Tubes (TWTs) at Teledyne MEC in Palo Alto, California. Before that she held a variety of other TWT design engineering and program management positions at Teledyne.
Ms. Harms earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin and has completed numerous advanced engineering and management programs.
1) How did you get started in the satellite business?
My first job after graduation from college was as a design engineer of Traveling Wave Tubes (TWTs) at Teledyne MEC in Palo Alto, California. Although most new engineering graduates were favoring more high technology positions, there was something about the TWT and vacuum tube technology that fascinated me. When I learned that TWTs had attributes that make them particularly amenable to space applications, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
In 1990, I was recruited by Ford Aerospace (which later became Space Systems/Loral), a commercial satellite manufacturer in Silicon Valley, as their Traveling Wave Tube specialist for satellite payloads.
2) How have you been involved in changes brought about in or by this business (innovations, technologies, services)?
As an engineer at Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), I was the technical liaison between the systems engineers and hardware suppliers. I specified and oversaw the manufacture of radio frequency (RF) hardware used in satellite payloads. The emerging broadcast television market wanted lower cost access to transponders so we drove the TWT suppliers to continuously increase the output power and efficiency of their product. SS/L supported the development of direct radiating collectors for TWTs, which allow heat to be radiated directly into space rather than via the satellite's communications panels. This facilitated higher power satellite platforms and improved the business models for direct-to-user applications such as DISH Network, DIRECTV and Sirius XM Radio.
Today, in my role in sales and marketing, I've been an advocate for technology developments that provide value to satellite operators and help make my customers more competitive in their markets.
3) What do you think was the greatest event/situation/opportunity you experienced?
Closing a two satellite deal on the Mekong River in the mid 1990's for a joint venture between some Thai entrepreneurs and the Lao People's Democratic Republic was a pretty special event, but this is just one of many. My career is chock-full of fantastic experiences and I am sure the best are yet to come.
4) What was the greatest obstacle?
Obstacle? What obstacle?
5) What do you see happening in the next five years in this industry?
On the technical side I see more power onboard satellites, perhaps upwards of 30 kilowatts in the next 5 years. Satellite operators and manufacturers will continue to push rocket manufacturers to launch larger and heavier payloads more cheaply - at least until the limits of physics have been reached.
On the business side I see consolidation within the mobile satellite service sector with more realizable business plans.
Finally, my crystal ball foretells of government-hosted payloads on commercial satellites as a baby step towards our government adopting commercial procurement practices to bring the sky-high price tags for current U.S. government systems back down to earth.
6) What advice do you have for women interested in entering the industry?
This is a great industry - one that nurtures life-long careers with enough breadth to allow you to evolve as your interests change.
Seek out mentors from within the industry. Become an expert in some aspect of the business. For those women who aspire to progress through the male-dominated aerospace hierarchy into executive management, articulate your goals to your management and ask for their support in attaining to your goals. Take every opportunity to build your skills. And network!
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