Iridium hires McBride back from OneWeb to be COO

05 February 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Satellite company Iridium has recruited Suzi McBride back to its ranks nearly three years after she left to join rival project OneWeb.

McBride will be chief operations officer of Iridium, which last month completed the launch of its new low-orbit satellite fleet and is going to market with its new services.

McBride will lead operations of the Iridium network, including the satellite constellation and associated ground gateways and terminals, said the company. This also encompasses all technology innovation on Iridium’s new network, including the development and manufacturing of subscriber equipment, new services and applications.

McBride spent the past two-and-a-half years at OneWeb, where she was also COO. She built up OneWeb’s team of engineers and oversaw the system design, production and testing of the ground and space networks as well as user terminal development. OneWeb, backed by SoftBank, Hughes, Bharti, Virgin and Intelsat, plans its first launch in two weeks, when a Russian-made Soyuz rocket will send the first six of a planned 900 satellites will be orbited from Kourou, French Guiana.

McBride said of her move: “I’m thrilled to be back at Iridium, especially at such an exciting time for the company, and in many ways my career has come full circle.”

She replaces Scott Smith, who will retire in mid-March as COO. Smith said: “When I joined Iridium almost nine years ago, a daunting task sat in front of us. Replacing our first-generation constellation by itself would be tough enough, but replacing it with a constellation that had significantly improved capabilities while still being compatible with over a million existing deployed devices and never taking the constellation offline brought the challenge to a whole other level.”

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said: “We can’t overemphasise how important Scott has been to Iridium over these past few years. Bringing Iridium Next to life and building state-of-the-art, satellite-based products and services are, in and of themselves, a career’s worth of accomplishments. We’ve been spoiled to have Scott leading these efforts for Iridium, and now we’re being spoiled again by having Suzi back with us in her new role.”

McBride said: “There are so many possibilities for new, small form-factor devices and the expanding capabilities of [first new service] Iridium Certus, as well as the incredible potential for satellite-based IoT.”