On Episode 15 of The Executives Unpacked Podcast we spoke to Katherine Gizinski about everything from the satellite industry to her passion for proper coffee. Katherine is the CEO of ManSat, a graduate of the International Space University’s Executive program, the chairwoman of the SSPI, and a supporter of the ITU’s ‘Girls in ICT’ initiative. She’s had an extensive career in the satellite industry, working with the US defence contractors to bring commercial satellite and terrestrial communication technologies to austere environments in support of military, diplomatic, first responder, and commercial initiatives.
Read on to find out how Katherine uses her passion to make life better for everyone!
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your career?
The lesson that’s reaffirmed most often is that your passion can’t be that can’t be trained. That’s something that’s got to be within someone. Your passion, work ethic, and mindset aren’t something you can learn. It’s really easy to place emphasis on qualifications, pedigree and expertise in our industry, but time and again, I’ve seen very qualified folks grow complacent. The folks that are really switched on are passionate about what they’re doing, willing to learn and are ready to drive themselves and their organisations to the next phase. Those are the folks you want driving high performance teams. For me, your passion, work ethic and a growth-oriented mindset trumps everything else in terms of what you can do.
What do you wish that you’d been told earlier?
Understanding how to manage people with different personalities would have been a great lesson. Some folks really need a lot of direct feedback, but others have so much motivation within them that a little bit of feedback goes a long way. A benefit of working with really driven and capable people is that they usually push themselves harder than anyone else. I could have benefited from being a little easier on myself and on others around me.
What’s one piece of advice that you always give to others?
I am a firm believer that we need to know our value. If you know what you’re good at and what you can bring to an organisation, you can find an environment where your skills have the maximum impact, and that will take you to a phenomenal place. Once you’ve found that, my advice is to stay curious. Never stop learning and growing. Always try to be a better version of yourself than you were the day before. That can be in terms of skills, development and knowledge base, or on a personal level, where you improve your cross functional collaboration, interactions with others or the way you run your team or organisation.
What constantly keeps you awake at night?
What plagues me is ‘How can we make life better for everyone?’ It sounds like a big question for an organisation like ours to grapple with, but we’re part of the solution. Our role is helping streamline the process for everyone. I see us as technology enablers, and we’re absolutely committed to that mission. I’m always challenging the team and myself to approach a client’s problems differently, take a different perspective, find what can we do here differently and ultimately keep the end customer in mind. If we don’t do our job for the client, the end customer doesn’t get the capability.
Is there a single thread that’s run through your career that’s led to your success?
I’ve always loved what I’ve done. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t aspects of all of our jobs that maybe aren’t our favourite. I can’t think of a role where I haven’t loved what I’ve done, and that’s kept driving me forward and kept the work itself fun and fresh. That’s the recurring theme throughout the various roles I’ve had. I’ve always had an attachment to the mission, vision and purpose of my companies, because I understood the value of what we were bringing to our users. Once I have that mindset, everything else flows from it.
To hear more about Katherine’s work in the satellite sector, listen to Episode 15 of The Executives Unpacked Podcast.