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Meet Laney Hind of Viasat in Carlsbad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laney Hind.

Laney, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an engineer. I’m motivated by a challenge. I’m not afraid of change… if anything I seek it out.

Five years ago, my husband and I moved from Florida to San Diego. We wanted something new; something different; something that would be life-changing. We were looking for new opportunities, together. We packed up our lives in a 24-foot U-Haul and spent 3-days driving cross-country, and I was 7-months pregnant. Trust me: that was a challenge.

Before moving, I spent some years working at Lockheed Martin. I focused on developing and supporting international defense applications, which included technical solutions to better assist our frontline warfighters during critical missions. My tenure with Lockheed Martin was invaluable. I was an engineer, but I was given strategic leadership- and business-training. I learned about working with other cultures, communities and how to maneuver within challenging environments. I’m thankful for these foundational skills. They prepared me for my next adventure: San Diego.

After our first child was born, I wanted to get back into an office. My background and interests aligned really well with Viasat, a global communications company based in Carlsbad. The company embodies a southern Californian lifestyle: challenge yourself, challenge others – make an impact individually, locally and globally. It was refreshing.

The Company culture thrives on constant innovation. We have a core philosophy: “always a better way,” which guides everything we do. It’s a promise — for what we’re trying to achieve in the market. We believe there’s always a better way to do things. And we apply that sense of determination and idealism to everything we do. It’s empowering, it’s dynamic and for a challenge-seeker like myself – it felt like home.

I started in the Aftermarket Services division within Operations – supporting all of our business areas, from Government to Commercial. I was especially drawn to our Commercial Aviation business where we work to outfit airplanes with Viasat’s high-speed, high-quality internet equipment/service. As a company, we’re on a mission to bring great internet experiences to the hardest-to-reach places, even an airplane moving at 600 Mph – which is no easy feat. Within three years, we built a business and a team of 12 aftermarket Program Managers from the ground-up – serving some of the biggest names in the commercial aviation world – like JetBlue, United and Virgin America, to name a few.

When the Operations team was operating at a high-level, Viasat encouraged me to seek out a new role; one that would tap into my interest to reconnect with working internationally would give me a big picture view of the organization and would leverage my engineering roots to solve real-world, hard communications problems through technology.

My new role: leading in-flight entertainment and connectivity deployments at major international airlines, like SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), and others. My role wasn’t just program management – it was about building deep partnerships and trust to shape customer thinking on how high-speed internet can impact their business – from empowering pilots and onboard crews with critical flight, safety and passenger information to creating better loyalty programs by enabling passengers to be more entertained in-flight to giving ground operations crews an ability to use big data to manage aircraft maintenance while the plane is flying. Not only did I get to tailor a solution to meet my airline partners’ needs, but we were able to get a solution in place that will change how they do business… forever.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For the most part, it’s been a pretty smooth ride. My transition from Florida to San Diego was a welcome change. The opportunity to be part of a team that is bringing affordable internet to all – is something we, as San Diegans, can be proud of. While other companies talk about bringing internet to all, we’re actually doing it. It’s exciting and aligns with my interest to do meaningful work.

In general, Viasat has been a company that has been respectful of my interests, my time and my family. They encourage all team members to explore their passions; celebrate diversity and new thinking – all with a focus to do work that matters. This type of support is what has made the road smooth.

And when I have faced a few technical speedbumps (specifically in building out our aircraft technology certification program for SAS), I’ve been encouraged to rethink the problem; and look at the experience as an opportunity to learn from either the situation or turn a mistake into a learning opportunity.

The biggest learning: turn those challenges into learning opportunities where I could share my experiences and expand the Company’s greater knowledge base.

Please tell us about Viasat.
Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything can be connected. We find better ways to deliver connections with the capacity to change the world — on the ground, in the air, and at sea.

The Company has three primary business segments:
• Satellite services – which brings high-speed satellite internet to hundreds of thousands of subscriber homes; businesses including commercial airlines or major cruise ships; and even emerging markets;
• Commercial networks – which is focused on technical engineering development, building everything from the satellite spacecraft that sits 23,000 miles above the Earth’s equator to the ground and cloud-infrastructure to the terminals and customer premise equipment that sit in subscriber homes or on an aircraft; and
• Government systems – which is focused on ensuring military and global defense institutions have access to high-speed communications networks and devices. We’re bringing commercial innovation to the tactical edge of the battlefield.

When I first started at Viasat, I worked in the Aftermarket Services area; however, today I work on the Commercial Aviation team’s customer programs – focused on bringing fast, high-performance in-flight internet to global airlines (pilots, in-flight and ground crews and passengers) flying at 35,000 feet. I’m driven by the opportunity to do something incredible: make the internet available, affordable and accessible for all.

My proudest moment at Viasat was the day Viasat and SAS Airlines achieved its first technical milestone: securing our first STC (supplemental type certificate) – which allows Viasat’s technology to operate on a SAS plane when in-flight. Achieving this STC, was monumental. We overcame a number of new challenges: new technology on a new aircraft in a new market and on a new network. With a lot of “firsts” – we were navigating unchartered waters – all the while building a partnership with SAS. Together, we built an integrated partnership—based on trust, confidence and a willingness to learn—that enabled us to maneuver through technology, cultural and schedule risk.

While I’ve worked at two deep technology, engineering firms – they are worlds apart. The success I have enjoyed at Viasat is based on a team approach that focuses on being flexible and responsive – with a deep understanding on how to be adaptable. We are smart people passionate about solving problems – from finding the root cause of an issue to methodically thinking of new and better ways to tackle a problem.

Finally, Viasat has a sincere realness; we’re a unique global team focused on ‘doing the right thing.’

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I’ve had great experiences, personally and professionally. I have worked hard and have taken advantage of every opportunity presented to me. I have had great managers, who taught me the critical business-set skills needed to build great teams.

When you’re early in your career, sometimes you don’t realize just how much freedom and free time you have that can be spent on something extra that would make a big difference. After having a family, that free time is a bit harder to come by.

If I had to start over – I would have liked to use my programmatic knowledge early in my career to impact global communities, especially in places where business opportunities for women are harder to establish. It’s rewarding to know the technology Viasat is bringing to market – is bridging the digital divide and enabling residents in emerging markets to connect to the internet for the first time. We’re making a difference, and that opportunity to help others, make a local and global impact is incredible.

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