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Issue 15
issue pic Eileen McGowan has over 8 years experience in the satellite industry focusing on market and competitive analysis, forecasting, and regulatory issues. As part of Intelsat's Corporate Strategy and Planning group, Eileen supports multiple internal customers, providing research and analysis to support decision making within the company. Prior to joining Intelsat in late 2007, Eileen spent seven years working at Futron Corporation in Bethesda, MD, first as a market analyst, and eventually as a program manager overseeing both the subscription service and the development of the company's annual demand forecast.

An active member of the aerospace community, Eileen is a past president (2006) and Golf Tournament Chair (2007-2008) of Women in Aerospace, and has served as Vice President (2007-2008) and Treasurer (2003-2007) of SSPI's Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter. In 2006, Eileen received one of the first SSPI Future Leader awards recognizing her contributions to the satellite industry. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in political science and classics from Case Western Reserve University.

1) How did you get started in the satellite business?

Given how much I truly enjoy my work and the satellite industry in general, I wish I could say I had a plan. The truth is that I wound up working for Futron purely by accident. I had spent two years at a small telecom consulting firm in Washington, DC, where I learned about basic telecom infrastructure design and provided analytical and editorial support for project reports. By the end of that time, the company was in financial difficulty, and the writing was on the wall. After my paycheck bounced, I was laughing about it over drinks with some friends when I met a woman who worked at Futron. She told me they were looking for a telecom market analyst, and within a couple months, I had my start at Futron.

2) How have you been involved in changes brought about in or by this business (innovations, technologies, services)?

In the past eight years, I've seen major changes in the way satellite operators do business. Eight or ten years ago, there was an "if you build it, they will come" philosophy that emphasized demand-based forecasting to figure out who and where "they" were. Intelsat was an intergovernmental organization whose signatories did not need to justify new satellites from a return-on-investment perspective. Other operators, caught up in the enthusiasm of the telecom bubble similarly were less concerned with closing business cases as with chasing what seemed to be limitless growing demand. Today, much of the industry is dominated by investors who require that any satellite they pay for will show certain returns. The result is an emphasis on closing the business case for any new satellite, which has led to a tightening of satellite capacity that shows Eutelsat reporting a fill rate of 97% at the end of 2008 and SES and Intelsat reporting highly utilized capacity as well, at 79% and 83%, respectively. The counter to this trend is seen in the emergence of government-subsidized "pride sats," which are launched by countries more for national pride than for revenue generation. While government-subsidized enterprises operate under different financial constraints from those with investors expecting an ROI, national economics also play a role, and a country may find that it cannot sustain a "pride sat" program beyond the first or secont satellite.

3) What do you think was the greatest event/situation/opportunity you experienced? and 4) What was the greatest obstacle?

My greatest obstacle and opportunity go hand-in-hand. Since I spent the beginning of my career as a consultant, I think my greatest obstacle was not having any experience in industry beforehand. Consequently, my greatest opportunity was being offered a position in Intelsat's Corporate Strategy and Planning group, which is like getting an on-the-job MBA. I started out in my comfort zone of forecasting industry demand, and have since moved into working on investment strategies, business planning, and other activities that are more challenging, but also offer me greater insights into how our internal departments interact and how tradeoffs are made among competing interests. I can't emphasize enough how much I truly enjoy what I do.

5) What do you see happening in the next five years in this industry?

It's always dangerous to ask someone who builds forecast models what the next five years will bring. From a demand perspective, we'll see a lot of the same dynamics play out: continued strong demand for video, greater uptake of HD channels, and possibly new models for consumer viewing habits. However, not all of the demand for video will translate into satellite capacity demand - compression technologies and terrestrial networks will dampen the growth curves. Data networks will continue to thrive, and whether innovative concepts like O3b come to fruition, the idea of them will influence the services and pricing offered by existing operators. The availability of capital for investment will also have a major influence on whether innovation will be rewarded or not. Too many people have been burned by the recent economic crisis to invest in unproven markets or technologies, so speculation on such technologies may prove too costly for most. Industry consolidation will likely continue, partially offset by emerging national satellite programs. The risk to the industry will be in rising fill rates and a more conservative approach to launching new capacity. In the event of a catastrophic failure of a GEO satellite, there may not be enough spare capacity on orbit to pick up the slack. On the launch side, we will soon see what SpaceX can do and what impact it will have on the other launch providers around the globe.

6) What advice do you have for women interested in entering the industry?

One of the best things about my experience in the satellite industry is the utter lack of harassment and discrimination I've seen. As a result, my advice to women interested in entering the industry would probably be the same advice I'd give to men: enjoying what you do is so much more important than money, but don't underestimate what you're worth. Join professional networking groups and meet as many people as you can - you'll never know when they can help you in your career. While working in a small, tight-knit industry has definite advantages, be careful about what you say to whom. And finally, find as many mentors as you can, and make sure they're both men and women. While women who have gone before can give you great advice, none of us would be where we are without the men who mentored women.


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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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