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Q and A with Kathie Bowden, Skills and Careers Lead, UK Space Agency

Kathie Bowden

Skills and Careers Lead, UK Space Agency

Pictured above: Kathie Bowden receiving the Individual Award for Education and Outreach at the Sir Arthur Clarke Centenary Awards, at the UK Space Conference 2017 in Manchester on 31 May 2017. The award was received from British ESA astronaut Tim Peake and UK Space Agency International Director (at the time) Rebecca Evernden.

What is your role?

I am the skills and careers lead for the UK Space Agency, which means that, on a day-to-day basis, I work with organisations across the space sector to understand what skills they need to run their businesses. I work with universities and colleges to understand what their courses are and what training they provide, and I work with students to help them understand what jobs might be of interest to them.

I often say that ‘if you tell me what interests you, I can probably find a place for you in space’.

I wanted a job which would take me outside, where I could travel – and preferably at someone else’s expense.

How did you end up on this career path?

I studied geology at university because I wanted a job which would take me outside, where I could travel – and preferably at someone else’s expense. I worked for a mining company who were an early adopter of satellite remote sensing (Earth observation) to support their global exploration programmes.

The job involved working all over the world and gave me the opportunity to do field follow up in awesome, remote environments. It also set me up with the skills and network to move to a company supplying satellite services back to the mining and oil industries, and to other resource (forestry and agriculture) and environment (monitoring and evaluation) companies, then I managed some big public science projects, a research centre and came to work for the UK Space Agency.

What advice would give those considering a science-based career?

Science skills of observation and analysis, coupled with the soft skills to pass on your information and knowledge coherently are highly transferable and sought after, just don’t put your thoughts and aspirations into a silo. You can go anywhere!

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