Executives Unpacked Episode 19: Learn New Skills Every Day with Guy De Carafel

This post was written by: John Clifton

On Executives Unpacked we ask our guests the secret to their success. On Episode 19 we had the pleasure of sitting down with Guy De Carafel, who told us that learning new things is the secret to career progression. Guy is the Founder and CEO of Cognitive Space, where they disrupt the space sector with intelligent infrastructure. Guy’s career has taken him from mechanical engineering to aerospace, giving him a wealth of knowledge about the industry. Read on to hear his insights!

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned during your career?

Don’t be limited by what’s right in front of you. Be curious. There’s always a solution or a different way of doing things for you to explore. Don’t let others set your path; find your own way.

What do you wish that you’d been told earlier in your career? 

Be patient. Build relationships, and make sure you’ve got a strong network, because it’ll follow you throughout your career and life. Building those relationships is critical for success.

What constantly keeps you awake at night?

When you’re growing a team, it’s essential to make sure everyone’s on the same page and rowing in the same direction. Building up your product as fast as you can, addressing the right problems for our customers, and sharing the value that we’re bringing to them is my biggest concern. It’s down to us to make a difference and move the industry forwards by completing our mission, which is to empower the use of space. We’re doing that by making better use of space and the satellites through AI.

Can you identify a single thread through your career that’s led to your success?

I think it was a lot of different things. I’ve always been curious. And I’m not shy of trying new things, even if I have zero knowledge of the domain. Coming out of college, I didn’t really know how to do programming, but I ended up doing programming and software development for NASA, and winning awards for that. I’ve always been interested in starting my own effort and making an impact in the industry. That’s how space became my mission, because I saw that the industry as a whole could mature in a big way. I leveraged the latest in machine learning technology, and moved away from the legacy approaches of managing satellites to create a disruptive solution.

Starting a company is not for the faint of heart, especially with a newborn child like I did. You need to learn every day – new skills, new mistakes, new ways of doing things – and you have to wear every single hat there is. Despite that, if you’re up to the challenge, it’s a really rewarding effort.

What’s one bit of advice you’d give to somebody coming into the industry, what would that be?

Focus on the mission. Focus on what you’re bringing to the industry. Start with your why, and be stubborn about it. That’s how it will come to fruition. I’m a firm believer that space has a lot to offer, and will be drastically different in as little as 10 years from now. I would encourage anyone that’s looking to move to come into this industry and move space forward.

To hear more about Guy’s work in the space sector, tune into the Executives Unpacked podcast here

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