Since May 1st, 2008, Pascale Sourisse is General Manager of the Land & Joint Systems Division. Located in twenty countries, with 13,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of 3.1 Bn Euros, the Thales Land & Joint Systems Division is a worldwide leader in Defense Communications and Command, Control and Information Systems, Optronics and Solutions for Land Forces.
Pascale Sourisse was previously General Manager of the Thales Space Division and President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space (a JV between Thales -67%- and Finmeccanica -33%-; formerly Alcatel Alenia Space), a global leader in satellites systems.
She was President and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space from 2005 to April 2007 and of Alcatel Space from 2001 to 2005.
Pascale Sourisse joined Alcatel Space in 1995, as Director, Strategy and Planning. Two years later she was appointed President and CEO of SkyBridge LP, a company incorporated in Delaware, USA, to develop and operate a global satellite-based network.
Prior to joining Alcatel Space, Pascale Sourisse held various management positions at the French Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, and France Telecom.
From 2002 to 2008, she was President of Eurospace, the Association of European Space Industries, member of the Council of ASD, the European Association for Aerospace and Defense Industries and member of the board of GIFAS, the French Association for Aerospace and Defense Industries.
Pascale Sourisse is also a member of the Board of Directors of Vinci.
Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour and Officier of the National Order of Merit, Pascale Sourisse is a Graduate of Ecole Polytechnique (1981) and of Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (1986).
1) How did you get started in the satellite business?
I have always been very interested in high technology, particularly in the Telecommunications and IT sector.
After several years spent with France Telecom and the French Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, I was offered a position as Head of Planning and Strategy at Alcatel Space. Although I had had the opportunity to work on certain matters related to satellite-based communications in my previous years, Alcatel Space offered me my first true in-depth exposure to the satellite business. I was then appointed as President & CEO of SkyBridge Limited Partnership, a JV involving many shareholders in North America, Europe and Asia aimed at deploying a global broadband satellite network for high-speed Internet access.
In 2001, I was appointed CEO of Alcatel Space which then became Alcatel Alenia Space following the merger of the Alcatel and Finmeccanica space activities. The Company is now Thales Alenia Space, a JV between Thales (67 %) and Finmeccanica (33 %). It generated € 2 Bn revenues in 2008.
2) How have you been involved in changes brought about in or by this business (innovations, technologies, services)?
Thales Alenia Space (previously Alcatel Alenia Space and Alcatel Space) has always been very much focused on innovation. In the field of satellite-based communications, huge increases have occurred in satellite transmission capacities as well as flexibility and performance of services offered, making it possible to deliver to both fixed and mobile users high-power broadcast services in a variety of frequency bands, and enhanced point-to-point services.
Thales Alenia Space has been very much involved in developing these new technologies and in investing in various initiatives aimed at providing new services (Internet access, mobile TV, etc.). Beyond the Telecom sector, Thales Alenia Space has also substantially invested in optical and radar observation technologies meteorology and environment monitoring solutions as well as scientific programs such as the Herschel & Planck satellites.
3) What do you think was the greatest event/situation/opportunity you experienced?
Market growth in the field of services has generated a fantastic growth opportunity for the satellite manufacturing business. Combined with a few consolidation steps (Alcatel Space + Aerospatiale satellites in 1998, Alcatel Space + Alenia Spazio in 2005), this has enabled Alcatel Space which was a 400 M€ business 15 years ago, to become Thales Alenia Space with € 2 Bn revenues in 2008. These consolidation steps have also generated very interesting challenges to take up from a cultural standpoint to successfully integrate businesses with teams coming from different backgrounds, countries and corporate cultures.
4) What was the greatest obstacle?
This industry is regularly facing significant downturns. In the last ten years, the biggest one took place following the explosion of the Internet bubble and led to a very low level of orders placed with the manufacturing industry. Under such circumstances, manufacturers have to launch restructuring plans leading to manpower reduction. The challenge then is to maintain critical competencies in order to be able to efficiently seize opportunities when recovery comes. Let's hope that the current economic & financial crisis will not have such serious consequences on industry.
5) What do you see happening in the next five years in this industry?
A new recovery can be expected when the consequences of the current economic and financial crisis are over.
We expect satellite services to continue to grow with a large share for broadcast applications. There will be an increased diversity of applications and services for both fixed and mobile users. Technology evolution with diversified frequency bands and enhanced performances will continue to support the growth of services.
We expect satellite-based communications to play an increased role in a number of countries that are still low users at the moment thus contributing to the important objective of reducing the digital divide.
In the field of earth observation and environment monitoring, we expect satellite solutions to be used by a growing number of countries.
In the field of science, we expect great achievements thanks to satellite technologies.
6) What advice do you have for women interested in entering the industry?
Space is a fascinating sector. It offers very diversified carrier opportunities with different types of players: satellite operators, service providers, manufacturers, space agencies, research bodies, etc. It offers the opportunity to participate in large strategic projects.
Space activities will continue to play in the future a prominent role in the field of science and research, environment monitoring, Defense, as well as the commercial sector of telecommunications and broadcast.
Choosing the space industry is certainly a very good decision to make and it also offers possibilities for carrier evolution in many other sectors.
One recommendation I would like to make to women with an engineering background is to take very operational jobs on programs. This is exciting and gives a solid experience to take high-level management positions later.
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Maj. Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Deputy Dir., National Reconnaissance Office
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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
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Pascale Sourisse, Gen. Manager, Land & Joint Systems Division, Thales
Andy Steinem, CEO, Dahl-Morrow International
Nicole P. Stott, Astronaut, NASA
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