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5 mins read 10 May 2022

Women of the Australian Space Community: Zandria Farrell

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.

Zandria Farrell is the space sector lead, Space and Space Weather, at the Bureau of Meteorology Credit: Supplied.

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.

  

Zandria Farrell - Space Sector Lead, Space and Space Weather, Bureau of Meteorology

What is your role at the Bureau of Meteorology?

As the Space Sector lead for the Bureau's space weather capability, I work closely with the Australian Space Agency, and Australia's growing space industry to increase the awareness of the impacts of space weather on the space sector. I look to understand their needs so that the Bureau's space weather capability can provide alerts and warnings to increase resilience in the face of space weather. As well as the people already in space, I also really enjoy engaging with the general public about space and space weather.   

How did you end up working in the space sector and what drew you to it?

My trajectory into the space sector has been a little more unusual than most. After leaving school I had a very 'Earth based' career path studying archaeology, being an objects conservator, and then studying environmental management. I had never contemplated that space was an option, but when I saw that the Australian Space Agency was being established, I thought I want to be a part of that! I was fortunate to fulfil this goal as the International Engagement Lead at the Australian Space Agency I experienced the Australian and global space sector up close and personal. From that point, I was hooked. My "leap of space" opened the doors to other space opportunities and led me to the exciting and fascinating world of space weather. Being a key part of the Bureau of Meteorology's space weather capability has really solidified my desire to be involved in the space sector. I love helping people learn about the importance and impact of space and space weather on our everyday lives. Being part of a sector that holds innovation, investigation and inspiration at its core is a fantastic place to be.

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?

Whether you are a new graduate or you are wanting to move from an existing career. Do it. Space is for all. Find an area you like and start learning, talking and listening to the people in that area. What I have found is that people in the space industry are very generous with their time and their knowledge, if you are interested and willing to learn they will help you. Some additional advice for people who are focused on the technical side of the industry is that it is really important that you do not forget the non-tech side of things. Take the time to improve your writing skills, your ability to communicate complex ideas simply and develop a way to build rapport that is genuine and meaningful. Oh and this just goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) be kind and respectful. Always.

Dr Tamitha Skov uses her knowledge and skills to help people understand how space weather impacts modern society. Dr Skov has been on several shows on The Weather Channel and The History Channel. Credit: Space Weather Woman.

Which women in the history of the Space Industry do you look up to? What was it about their achievements that resonated with you?

There are many inspiring women in the space industry that I look up to, but to single out two: Dr Tamitha Skov also known as the 'Space Weather Woman', is a space weather physicist, researcher and public speaker committed to raising the public's awareness of space weather and its impacts. Her ability to communicate and engage, translating complex physics into interesting and simplified ways is amazing, and something I try to emulate in my role. 

Flavia Nardini, CEO of Fleet Space Technologies, is on a mission to change Earth from space, which really resonates with me and my earth-based background. I love her enthusiasm for space and her passion for supporting people in their space careers. As I am also Italian, I also love to see how the Italian culture permeates into the way she leads and treats her employees. She is a great role model for women in space and the Italian community.

Who have you met that has had the most impact on your career journey so far?

Without a doubt, Dr Megan Clark has had the most impact on my career journey. I was fortunate to work closely with Dr Clark whilst she was the Head of Agency at the Australian Space Agency. I saw first-hand her leadership style, her approach to work and how she focused on transforming and growing the Australian space sector. Dr Clark continues to be both generous with her knowledge and time. She has provided me with advice that has helped me forge ahead with my own space career, providing insight and perspective.