May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. At Maxar, our AAPI Employee Resource Group (ERG) is hosting activities to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We spoke with UD (Udayan Damany), Technical Partner for Quality Assurance in our Space Infrastructure segment and a member of the AAPI steering committee, about his role at Maxar and the mission of the AAPI ERG.

UD, who joined Maxar in 2021, is a member of the Maxar AAPI ERG steering committee.

Q: What you do at Maxar?

UD: I help ensure quality is integrated into our space infrastructure programs so the spacecraft we design and manufacture exceed all safety and performance requirements. One fun analogy is when Tony Stark suits up to fight bad guys or save humanity, it is critical to ensure quality is embedded in every piece of armor and technology. All the pieces fly together to Tony and turn him into the Iron Man. When he takes off, I make sure that the quality piece is not lying on the ground. As with Iron Man’s suit, it is also about continuous improvement. We’re always working to make sure our products are the best they can be, do what they are intended to do and exceed the highest standards of quality.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your career and how you came to Maxar?

UD: I grew up in India and came to the U.S. to get my master’s degree. I worked in the automotive industry, first at Nissan and later at Tesla. I applied to Maxar because the position was appealing. To be honest, I was surprised when I got the call for an interview because I had no aerospace background. When asked how I plan on collaborating with colleagues with 40-plus years of experience, I answered, “I recognize that I might fail, and therefore I am no longer focused on not wanting to fail. Rather, I’m looking for ways to improve collaboration and discover paths to success.” It resonated with the team, and here we are today.

Q: What are some of the activities the AAPI ERG has planned for this month and beyond?

UD: We help bridge relationships among members of the AAPI community at Maxar to foster a sense of belonging and to build awareness and understanding of AAPI history and heritage among our colleagues. The goal of all the ERGs is to welcome and celebrate diversity. A great thing about Maxar is how our workforce values diversity of thought and perspective. I have always appreciated how my ideas are welcome.

I’m proud to be part of the Maxar AAPI ERG steering committee. We regularly host educational events and social gatherings that help promote professional development, leadership opportunities and cultural awareness. This month, we’re holding lunch socials at some worksites as well as a listening event, to celebrate our culture, our history and our contributions, and share suggestions for being more inclusive of AAPI colleagues.

Q: Why is diversity important?

UD: Exposure to diverse ideas, new perspectives, other ways of viewing the world can open up new ways of thinking, broaden your knowledge and enhance creativity. As an Indian American, married to an Argentine and with growing family, we hear many different points of view. We’ve learned how important it is to listen and to be open to ideas that differ from yours, and in a company like Maxar, diverse perspectives make us stronger.

Q: What are some of the biggest professional challenges facing those within the AAPI community, and how can the business community address them?

UD: First off, the AAPI community is large and diverse, representing cultures from 48 countries. Companies need to hire talented people from a wide range of backgrounds to ensure the full AAPI community is represented. Beyond that, we need more opportunities to engage and collaborate with people from other backgrounds across our global workforce. Interacting on a person-to-person level is essential. At Maxar, our ERGs are helping drive effective dialogue and engagement, which has a positive impact on collaboration.

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