Welcome to the STEM Career Highlight Series, which is a Q&A series showcasing the people of Hughes and the STEM path they took to jumpstart their careers and get to where they are today. Through sharing these experiences, we hope to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders and instill in them the same enthusiasm and passion our employees have for what they do.
This week, we’re talking to Aziza, a principal program manager.
What got you interested in STEM?
I have always liked math and science and been curious about how things work, but I really began to delve into it more during my first year of college. I wanted to be able to change people’s lives by harnessing the power of technology.
Did you study STEM in school?
I first studied STEM in high school in Morocco and then went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from George Mason University. Following that, I pursued a master’s in computer networks from George Washington University.
How long have you been working for Hughes?
I have been with Hughes for a combined total of eight years, as I’m somewhat of a boomerang. This is actually my second time around working here at Hughes. This is also where I started my career with my first job out of college. In my current role as a program manager, I’m able to make use of my technical creative side, managing the engineering team’s interaction with outside providers and partners.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
Over the years, mentorship has taken on many different forms to help shape my career trajectory. I found my first official mentor in my manager when I joined Hughes. This person helped me significantly as I began my career by encouraging me to think and act beyond my day-to-day duties to see the big picture. This is a mentality I continue to carry with me and that I regularly pass along as advice to others as they begin their careers.
What is a Hughes customer interaction you have experienced for which you are particularly proud?
Two years ago, I helped secure a hardware solution for a customer who needed thousands of sites upgraded from older equipment without causing any service disruption, which was a very tall order. With a little ingenuity and perseverance, we were able to seamlessly provide the customer with the update they needed. As a result of these efforts, I also ended up having the honor of receiving an award during a Hughes sales meeting. While this recognition was incredible, my greatest satisfaction was in knowing how I helped our customer.
What advice would you give to students entering the STEM field?
Passion and communication are key ingredients to excelling in STEM and engineering. Internships are a great way for students to identify the STEM areas they would love to work in. They also need to take the time to hone their communication skills–a critical part of working in any STEM field that is not taught nearly enough in college.