Iridium Communications has announced Suzi McBride is returning to the company, this time as chief operating officer, effective later this month. Long-time COO Scott Smith, who helped lead the company during the launch of Iridium NEXT satellite network, is retiring in March.
Smith will continue to work in a consulting role as the handoff to McBride is completed.
McBride previously spent nine years at Iridium, including as vice president of program management and launch services, playing a key leadership role in the development of the Iridium NEXT system.
McBride has spent the past 2.5 years as COO and senior vice president at OneWeb, where she built up the company’s team of engineers and oversaw the system design, production and testing of the ground and space networks as well as user terminal development.
“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,” McBride said. “I worked under Scott (Smith) designing and building Iridium NEXT up to launch, and it’s an honor to have him passing me the COO baton.”
Smith, who first joined Iridium in April 2010, led the Iridium NEXT program from concept to reality. He called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“When I joined Iridium almost nine years ago, a daunting task sat in front of us,” Smith said. “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 stated: “We can’t overemphasize 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. We’re very fortunate to be able to wish Scott a happy retirement with a monumental achievement like Iridium NEXT under his belt, while welcoming someone with Suzi’s experience, expertise and leadership abilities. It’s a good time to be us.”