Blog

09.12.2019

Q&A: Chris Shank Joins Maxar as Vice President of National Security Space

By: Maxar Technologies


Read Time: 4 minutes

Chris Shank has joined Maxar as the Vice President of National Security Space, effective September 9, 2019. As part of the Global Field Operations team, Chris will manage sales, business development, account management and service delivery across Maxar’s national security customer base.

Chris previously held various leadership roles in the military, U.S. government and commercial industry for over 25 years. Before joining Maxar, Chris was the Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office at the U.S. Department of Defense. In this role, he led the development of new and innovative ways to shape and counter emerging threats across all domains, bringing unexpected and game-changing capabilities to the Joint Force.

Chris has also held leadership roles at Van Scoyoc Associates, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Honeywell Aerospace, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA. He served as an Officer in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years and holds a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame.

We caught up with Chris to talk about his new role at Maxar and his perspective on the company.

Can you tell us a little more about your role at Maxar?

As the Vice President of National Security Space, I’m responsible for bringing our teams together to pursue business opportunities with the defense and intelligence communities. While I will focus on hardware-based solutions, I also plan to connect the dots between Maxar’s various Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure capabilities to offer our customers complete mission systems.

What will you focus on during your first 90 days?

For the first few weeks, I’ll be in listening-mode, absorbing as much detailed information about the company, its capabilities and goals as possible. By the end of my first 90 days, I hope to be leading the team on various strategic pursuits and promoting aggressive growth of our defense and intelligence community verticals.

Why did you choose to work at Maxar?

For me, the mission is everything. Whether it’s defending our national security, enabling our exploration of the solar system or shaping our policies so that the U.S. government has access to new and cost-effective commercial business models, I have always strived to help people and our country. My dedication to the mission remains true at Maxar, where our high-resolution imagery is regularly used for critical missions like disaster response, and our sophisticated space systems are enabling humanity to reach for the Moon and Mars. Maxar’s purpose “For a Better World” resonates with me.

Also, the space industry is my sweet spot. My education is in aerospace engineering (go Buffs!) and I have spent many years developing systems for remote sensing and global positioning.

What surprises you the most about Maxar?

What has impressed me the most is how strong and welcoming the culture is at Maxar. The team here takes the company’s value, “You Matter,” to heart, and leadership is focused on providing a meaningful employee experience.

My onboarding experience at Maxar was the best I’ve ever had. I was given all of the tools I needed to hit the ground running on day one, and my colleagues have all been great at helping me navigate my new environment.

Is there an achievement that you’re most proud of?

As an engineer, I lived in Colorado for seven years working to improve the accuracy of GPS satellites. One day, through an update to the navigation message in our software, I was able to improve the accuracy of our GPS satellites by about 50%. That software remains on the system today, over 20 years later.

This is one of the achievements I’m most proud of not only because of the significant and lasting contribution I made to GPS accuracy, but because this solution is a convincing proof point for what I’ve dedicated my career to: cost-effective, quick turn capabilities that bring disruptive innovations to bear in faster timeframes.

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