Caroline De Vos

Caroline’s background is in astrophysics, she has an MBA and has previously worked at the European Space Agency as a candidate Astronaut.

In 2010, Caroline Co-Founded Satellite Service Provider, SatADSL. SatADSL designs and offers innovative satellite networking solutions to banks, microfinances, broadcasters, NGOs, Governments, ISPs, telecom operators and other companies in worldwide remote areas or where terrestrial infrastructure is not reliable. SatADSL has already installed more than 3,000 VSAT networks in more than 45 countries. It specializes in providing tailor-made solutions based on customers’ specific requirements and flexible service plans that meet its clients’ budgets. SatADSL is the creator of the innovative Cloud-based Service Delivery Platform (C-SDP) which serves as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution, enabling operators to deliver satellite-based connectivity without investing in additional physical infrastructure.

Caroline is based in Belgium and travels extensively around the world with SatADSL, participating at annual trade shows including IBC, Africacom, CommunicAsia and many more.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role (this can include anything you are up to in terms of projects/initiatives – feel free to plug)

As Co-founder of SatADSL, I have master’s degrees in physics, Space Science and a Space Executive MBA from the International Space University. I have had a fascination in space science since a young age and in my earlier years I was proud to be an astronaut candidate at the European Space Agency (ESA). Little did I realise at the time, my love of space and heights was to play a starring role in my career path!

SatADSL was formed in 2011, in part out of an idea coming from a market study that I undertook with the other three SatADSL Co-Founders, Thierry Eltges, Co-Founder & CEO, Fulvio Sansone, Co-Founder & CTO and Michel Dothey Chief Commercial Officer.  While we were working at the ESA on a satcom study (https://artes.esa.int/projects/use-satellite-triple-play-services-emerging-countries) we realised that there was a way for us to channel our expertise to new places to find communities in need of connections using satellite communications. These connections could transform ways of life and enterprise beyond all recognition and I was certainly intent on doing this successfully!

Today, at SatADSL, we design innovative satellite networking solutions for areas where terrestrial infrastructure is not reliable. Our company has already installed more than 3,000 very small aperture terminal (VSAT) networks in more than 45 countries. Its tailor-made solutions are based on customers’ specific requirements with flexible service plans to meet budgets. SatADSL is also the creator of the innovative Cloud-based Service Delivery Platform (C-SDP) which serves as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution, enabling operators to deliver satellite-based connectivity without investing in additional physical infrastructure.

I enjoy the balance I have between my career and home life, as a sporty mother of two girls aged 7 and 5. I never wanted to hold back on my goals and I always wanted to apply myself to be a strong leader for both my family and my business partners and peers. I feel that I have successfully achieved this so far, managing to still travel as my business requires while providing the supportive home life that my family deserves and expects.  My ethos has essentially always been this – dream big and encourage others to want to do the same.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I always knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference in the world. I hoped that I would be able to apply my skills to make my dreams a reality. In terms of planning, I felt that I knew the direction I would head in as I became a candidate astronaut to further my knowledge of space.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As a candidate astronaut, I narrowly missed the chance to become an astronaut, but this did not hold me back in furthering my ambitions! In a situation like this some women may have been discouraged but I took this as a turning point and an opportunity to channel my passions in a slightly different direction.

As a woman working in what is still predominantly seen as a ‘man’s world’, I have sometimes come up against challenges. Not only in tech today but in the past when I was a qualified mountain guide following my time at the ESA. It seemed back then that sometimes it was difficult to be the one to call the shots when surrounded by men. Why should it be that a woman is less deserving to have a leading role in a physically challenging environment like the mountains? I could say perhaps that my strength back then was to empathise my fellow climbers and an to apply my sensitivities to help them succeed in reaching their goals. I hope today that those I trained will remember my encouragement and perseverance, thinking of me as a strong leader, even in adverse terrain!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Co-founding SatADSL with my three business partners was a huge achievement me. Starting the business allowed me to cement my goals with a tangible outlet for good. What I love most is that SatADSL is a truly unique business offering. We took a vision to market and we now have limitless potential to offer satellite services to communities close to our hearts, in Africa and beyond. The uniqueness of what our company can offer can completely transform lives and communities.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Many people say that they have a drive to succeed. For me, this was certainly the case as I knew I would never feel accomplished unless I tried to succeed from the start. As I began to travel the world in my younger years as a mountain guide, I realised there were new heights to be discovered, physically and mentally. A sense of exploration was always within me right from dreaming of space as a child, to translating this into real life as an adult. People need connections to flourish and I am so proud to have been able to apply my skills with my teams to connect people and unite dreams as often as possible.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I believe that anyone should be able to excel in a career in technology, if that is their dream. If they have confidence in themselves then there is no reason why they should not be able to reach the level they want – in any industry. For me, it was not always simple, but in combining my will to succeed with my knowledge of space, physics and human empathy I managed to succeed.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

As far as I can tell, the barriers in tech are still there for women and a lot of this comes from an existing mentality that women are not strong enough to be successful in technology. This of course is false, and I am quite sure there is an appetite for change. As more opportunities arise and more positions are held by women, the environment will hopefully start to look very different.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

It seems obvious to say but it remains to be seen in practice that more women will begin to take up positions at the highest level. I do feel encouraged to see more leading women in the technology sector and I hope that the unique strength women bring to leadership continues to stand out and that in a few years’ time this will be much less of an issue.

There are currently on 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

For things to change there needs to be more women approached for senior roles and more of an expectation that they will take the highest positions, if they have the right skillset. Women need to be empowered to go for those high-level positions in the first place to make this happen, especially in tech and to know that they can do it and be part of the change.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Networking is good – the more women are out there showing that they can be the best, the better!

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