The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Marketing Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Andre Kearns, who’s marketing director of Aerospace and Satellite at Amazon Web Services. Here, he talks key achievements, priorities going forward, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020 / 2021?
AWS launched the Aerospace and Satellite business in 2020 to a space industry seemingly unaware of the benefits of operating on the cloud. As marketing leader for the business, I knew going into 2021 that market education had to be our top priority. I designed a strategy to educate the industry on how AWS Cloud is helping to make the future of space a reality.
As a key initiative, we produced an inspiring video, which follows pioneer astronaut Peggy Whitson as she gains first-hand insights from Major Gen. Clint Crosier (Ret.) on how AWS helps space customers like NASA take research and discovery to the next level. We filmed the video at Space Center Houston under strict COVID protocols and in the midst of ice storms and during the Texas power crisis, but we got it done. Our video has now driven more than 2.2 million views and is poised to change the way the space industry leverages the cloud to accelerate innovation.What has made you successful in your current role?
My background in business strategy, marketing and space industry expertise prepared me for the role. My embrace of Amazon’s leadership principles is enabling success in the role. Here are a few examples. We are customer obsessed. Before we market, we develop a deep understanding of our customers’ needs. We focus on delivering results. We are a lean marketing team supporting a growing business that is transforming the space industry. We focus on initiatives that we believe deliver the highest impact for our customers and the business. We operate with a bias for action. We experiment, move quickly, learn from past performance, and rapidly iterate our plans to support our growing business.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am so proud to be a part of an amazing team that’s focused on solving the unique challenges of the space industry. I’m proud that in 2021 we developed and executed our first AWS space marketing plan to build on the momentum of our 2020 launch. I am proud of the opportunity to introduce our business to customers around the world. For example, we were just in Dubai for the International Astronautical Congress. It was such a thrill to see our business share the speaking stage with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and share how the cloud enables the Emirates Mars Mission.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
The space industry faces many challenges and opportunities. For example, one of the biggest current challenges is how to handle, process, and analyze massive amounts of satellite data quickly, securely and at scale. Our business is focused on solving big challenges like this and bridging the gap between earth and space more rapidly than ever before. Our marketing is focused on sharing transformational stories of how we are innovating side-by-side with our customers to bridge that gap. All of this will help our government and commercial customers take their research and discovery to the next level and also identify ways to improve life on earth.How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Supporting STEM education is an investment in the future of space. Prior to AWS, when I worked for Maxar Technologies, my son’s middle school teacher invited me to present to his class on satellite imagery, crowdsourcing and how we help to make a better world. It got me thinking about how I could have a greater impact advancing K-12 STEM, so I created and launched a classroom outreach program at THE company which reached over 1,000 school children across the country.
Fast forward to today. The satellite presentation I gave to my son’s class planted a seed in him which has blossomed into a full-blown passion for space. He is now an aspiring astrophysicist completing his first year of college and I couldn’t be prouder as a dad. I tell space stories, but he will get to create them.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Know yourself and your professional passions. Build your career based on those passions. Build a marketing plan to pursue your career. You are the product. Set your career objectives. Define your unique value proposition as a candidate to employers. Identify a target list of companies where you want to spend your career. Build and maintain a professional network that can help you pursue career opportunities. Make yourself indispensable in the roles in which you serve.
Develop mentors who can guide you on your path. Over the course of your career, pay attention to how you go to sleep and wake up. If you sleep soundly at night and wake up energized to tackle the next day, you are on the right career path. If you have trouble sleeping and wake up with the weight of the world on your shoulders it might be time to try something different. Work with people you like and respect. Know your life purpose and make sure your career aligns to it and doesn’t work against it. Be mission driven. Find a way to make a difference in the world.