Women of the Australian Space Community: Chloé Leclerc
Women play a huge role in the Australian space sector, and each week SpaceAustralia.com will be sharing the story of an inspiring woman who makes our community so special.
In March each year, we not only celebrate International Women’s Day but we also enjoy learning about all the contributions women have made to society during Women’s History Month. Originally started in the US in 1987, it has in recent times, in part due to social media, become more well known across the world.
As a celebration of all the wonderful work, inspiration, and support that women across our region do in the space sector, SpaceAustralia.com will be speaking to a new women in the Australian space community weekly, to uncover their stories and find out who inspires them.
Chloé Leclerc, Head of Marketing & Commercial Strategy for Fleet Space Technologies
What is your role at Fleet Space Technologies?
I am the Head of Marketing & Commercial Strategy for Fleet Space Technologies. It is my privilege to be part of a rapidly growing team of technologists, engineers, software experts, and commercial minds gathered in Adelaide, South Australia who are working collectively to unlock the power of global connectivity.
We do this through the design, engineering, manufacturing, launch, and operation of a constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites. This technology is already proving its value for earth-critical applications. This includes revolutionising the mining and exploration industry by creating far less invasive and therefore more sustainable practices to answer the urgent global requirement to find the rare metals (iron, nickel, lithium, and cobalt) that will enable the global transition to clean-air mobility.
What I find particularly fascinating about my role is taking very complex technical concepts and finding relatable ways to build an understanding of the work we are doing as a company and an industry to benefit humanity through space applications. I am very proud of the work that I do to shape and amplify not only Fleet as a brand but the rapidly emerging Australian space scene. The work we are doing really is positioning Australia as a growing centre of excellence in space applications on the world stage.
How did you end up working in the space sector and what drew you to it?
It all started at the end of my studies in Beijing and I found myself so energised being in an entirely new and incredibly vibrant environment. I was offered a placement with Airbus in Beijing where I was fortunate to manage communications for the engineering group within the company.
Although I have absolutely no family background in this industry, there are no engineers in the family, I became absolutely fascinated with what engineers do, working incredibly hard on the minute details associated with bringing aerospace products to life.
This opened my eyes to the power of engineering to solve challenges not just in aerospace but how those skills touch multiple industries like mining, oil & gas, mining, and even agritech.
Even as a business student, I always promised myself I would do something more than just sell or market a product, I always had a sense that great business can lead to a much bigger contribution to the world. There is nothing like the limitless possibility of a vocation like working in the space industry to fulfill that desire to do something with genuine meaning and impact.
After 5 years on the aerospace side in Airbus - I found myself wanting to be closer to the application of these technologies for real-life customer user cases. This led to an opportunity to work with Airbus’ Space division - it felt like a natural and very rewarding progression and I am now so excited to be part of a genuine future-facing industry with so much potential to solve industrial, technological, and even environmental challenges.
What advice would you give to people looking to start their career in the Australian space industry, whether they are new graduates or those looking to move their careers over?
My first advice would be do it. We are part of one of the world’s rapidly emerging centres of excellence. This is because the government, the private sector, and our universities are working so effectively in collaboration.
For anyone starting their career, this opens so many doors to be part of a growing ecosystem that will support a diverse range of foundational experiences. What this means is that like me you can come into an industry without the usual engineering or science background normally associated with it and absorb knowledge from some of the most incredible minds in their fields.
This is where I think Australia is making giant leaps in its ability to attract incredible talent from across the world.
My advice once established would be to work hard, absorb everything, trust in your own ability and never accept that ‘this is not the industry for you’ - if you have the passion and commitment there is so much opportunity in this incredibly vibrant field that there are the opportunities there for those with the commitment and passion.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to leaders in this industry. I’ve benefited enormously from speaking to other senior women and individuals to understand their journey and where they see my potential taking me. Finally, even before you finish your studies, start talking to people, build a network and get advice - it's an incredibly supportive and close community and we can’t wait to welcome more people to it.
Which women in the history of the Space Industry do you look up to? What was it about their achievements that resonated with you?
I am French and have always been inspired by Claudie Haigneré, the first European woman to visit the International Space Station. She is a true polymath, she was a doctor, politician, and then an astronaut.
She now dedicates her life to inspiring young people. She is the living embodiment that nothing is impossible and that your path in life is never written. You can have an impact if you apply yourself and live with passion.
Even 30 years ago when being a woman in the industry was even tougher, she never saw this as a barrier.
What do you think are some of the issues faced by women in the space sector and how do you think they should be resolved?
First and foremost it’s troubling that we still find it so remarkable to see a woman in this industry and that they are described as a ‘female engineer, executive or scientist’.
Clearly, I am very privileged to work for an incredibly accomplished and successful woman. What she has done is instilled in me and everyone in the company self-belief and a sense that we are all in charge of our own destinies and ultimately success in our careers. This self-belief, especially for any underrepresented cohort in any industry is absolutely vital.
The more we do to support each other and show young people that this is a meaningful career where reward and progression is based on merit, the more we do to find that balance.
What are you most excited about in the coming years for the Australian Space Industry?
The sheer growth in terms of scale, innovation, talent, and growing national importance. I think it’s amazing how it’s been nurtured by the federal government and the private sector. This level of investment will yield hugely progressive leaps forward for us as a nation. We are developing vital technology with clear and potent applications that will remain sovereign.
This is of course, of strategic importance but also with it creates an ecosystem of innovation that will attract even more talent, investment, and great ideas.
It feels similar to what I imagine Silicon Valley was like in its foundational days. Talented people with great ideas working collaboratively to solve problems and create amazing companies and technologies.