space | Canadian Space Agency: Lisa Campbell breaks the glass ceiling

Lisa Campbell was often one of the few workplace women I knew. Sometimes a criminal attorney, sometimes an assistant deputy minister for military and naval supply, Montrealer made her way to the CSA chief. The first is the organization that was founded in 1989.

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Samuel La Rochelle

Samuel La Rochelle
special cooperation

Prior to being appointed head of the organization in 2020, she had never worked in aviation. “I worked in contract management at the competition office,” she explains. I have managed complex projects in military and naval supply management. It has also developed in international law and human rights. All of this led me to where I am now. »

Deep inside, something pushed her toward the field. “I am fascinated by astronomy, science, science fiction, and just about anything humans can do. Throughout my career, I have been drawn to modernity, the future, and human collaboration. When I saw this opportunity, I was thrilled!”

Since taking office from a long line of male chiefs, she’s made a difference with the next generation of women. “Many young women studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics have come to see me to tell me how important it is for them to see this charade. However, there is still a long way to go!”

The president challenges inclusion and diversity, and notes that there is good representation in the agency’s base. However, things are less rosy in some sectors, such as engineering, and among executives. “It is the same in all agencies on the planet, but I want that to change and for us to be among the best in the world.”

We need diversity of ideas to encourage innovation. I firmly believe that this will become our strength. If we are the most diverse and inclusive, it can help us attract talent from everywhere.

Lisa Campbell, President of the Canadian Space Agency

Lisa Campbell has been interested in the inner workings of organizations and societies throughout the ages. “I studied political science at McGill University, because I had a passion for how societies organize and manage themselves and take care of human rights. And I went to law at Dalhousie University to better understand how societies develop and take care of the most vulnerable.”

Through the subsequent development of criminal law, she witnessed numerous issues of economics, mental health, and justice. All this while being one of the few women of her generation to do this work. “Very early on, I had to learn how to take my place and do my job even if I wasn’t always respectful and if people were prejudiced against me. I learned to navigate it.”

behave yourself

While many women in positions of power have claimed that they were chosen or forced to lead “like men” in order to gain respect, Lisa Campbell does not endorse this strategy. “Some people told me that I should dress or act like a man, but that didn’t suit me. I find it very important to be myself. People feel that.”

When she took her first management position, she said she chose to treat people the way she wanted them to be treated: with fairness, honesty, fellowship, cooperation, and respect. “Sometimes people ask me how to be nice and human. Honestly, I couldn’t be otherwise. I was also told that I was very polite. However, politeness does not prevent me from being strong or assertive.”

The manager places more emphasis on communication, solutions, and collaboration. Three concepts that prove very useful in a changing environment. In aviation, we are moving more and more towards a strong partnership between governments and private sector companies, and between different countries. »

She cites as an example the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched by the Canadian Space Agency, NASA and the European Space Agency in December 2021. “It is the most powerful in history! This summer, we will receive the first images that will give us information about the formation of the universe! »

Lisa Campbell talks about the telescope with undeniable enthusiasm, even though she is not an expert. “I study the topic every day. Not only because I want to be able to support the work of my colleagues, but also because I love it. I follow the news all the time. Space is in motion! We live in a new age of space.”

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