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What is a regulatory team and why does Kepler need one? Simon Molgat Laurin, a Regulatory Associate at Kepler Communications, is here to answer your questions. This blog is the second in a series of Keplerian Highlights, showcasing the work, career journeys, and advice from a variety of Keplerians! 

Samantha 

So, first question, how long have you been at Kepler? And what do you do here?

Simon

I’ve been at Kepler for a year, working as a Regulatory Associate. Essentially, what that means is that my job consists of dealing with our international radiofrequency licensing and our policy and lobbying efforts, both in various countries of interest to Kepler and internationally at the International Telecommunications Union.

Samantha

Why does Kepler need a regulatory team?

Simon

The regulatory team wears several different hats. We currently have six full time team members, and essentially we ensure that we have the proper authorizations both at the international and national levels to legally operate as a satellite telecommunications provider throughout the world. Effectively, we ensure that Kepler is not breaking space law. These authorizations not only enable us to provide our services, but obtaining spectrum rights also inherently provides value to the company. Additionally, we make sure that our operations are coordinated with that of other satellite operators that are communicating in the same frequency bands as us. Another aspect of our work is lobbying. Since different countries throughout the world implement international space law in different ways – they all have varying regulatory frameworks – we provide comments as a member of the space industry to governments to help steer the development of satellite regulation. While this may sound like the work is solely steeped in legalese, we have a portion of our team dedicated to conducting technical analyses to support all of our licensing and lobbying efforts. We also take care of various internal regulatory matters, like making sure that all our employees are cleared for CGP, the Canadian Controlled Goods Program, or obtaining the proper export permits to ship our satellites to launch sites.

Samantha

What does a usual day for you look like?

Simon

It’ll vary quite a bit, but I’ll often be conducting research and having meetings with various representatives of government in countries where we want to operate to determine their RF licensing procedures. I’ll also frequently coordinate with our business development and product teams to make sure I’m up to speed on the geographical locations we want to deploy our services, and interact with the various technical teams of the company to pull together the required technical information to submit RF licensing applications. I could also be keeping an eye on ongoing regulatory rulemakings in various countries and drafting up our official responses to those. 

Samantha

How did you get into this job in the first place? What are your previous experiences and interests that led you here?

Simon

I’ve always read way too much science fiction, and I think that’s always steered my interests towards space-related things in general. But as far as my academic and professional career, I did my bachelor’s in aerospace engineering at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where I was also part of the student rocketry team. I then did my masters in spacecraft engineering at the University of Toronto, and then I worked for several years as a structures and thermal engineer at SFL, a lab that’s designing and building micro satellites. 

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in space law that dates back to my undergraduate days, when I had a one semester course that was just a crash course on aviation and space law. It had always been in the back of my mind as something that I’d like to touch upon at some point in my career. And just a couple years ago, the timing of things lined up well for me to take a year’s break from work to do a quick, professionally-oriented graduate degree in space law at McGill. That was my direct gateway into regulatory work because after completing that program I was then hired at Kepler. I think it’s been valuable to have both an engineering and a semi-legal background, because so much of the work deals with aspects of both those fields – it’s been a fun balance between the two.

Samantha

What would you say makes you passionate about this role?

Simon

What I really enjoy about it is that it touches so many different aspects of the business and allows me to interact with people throughout the company. Although it’s a little bit detached from the actual satellite hardware itself, it’s exciting to be part of the crucial behind the scenes that allows the whole service to exist. Without the regulatory framework, we wouldn’t even be allowed to deploy our satellites.

Samantha

That’s definitely something that people don’t often think about. There’s so many things behind our satellites going up – like the regulatory team.

My next question is, from the five Kepler values, which one would you say resonates most with you? And what does that mean to you?

Simon

I think “Work Together” would probably be my favorite, just because it effectively means that you’re never working in a silo on your own. And that’s been all the more evident over the course of the past year, when we’ve all been working from home, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own with your laptop and that’s it. But the company as a whole makes an active effort to make sure that there’s outreach amongst teammates, and that there is coordination and that the whole company feels like it’s contributing to the overall goal of Kepler, as opposed to a bunch of different parts that are just working independently of each other.

Samantha

Speaking of “Work Together”, what qualities do you most value in your team members?

Simon

It’s kind of related to why I like “Work Together” as a Kepler value. I really value team members that are willing to collaborate and go beyond their strict job definition to give a helping hand to others and reach out to make sure that the team moves forward together. Another thing I highly value – something that I’ve seen throughout the company, and that doesn’t cease to impress me – is just the ability to persevere under stressful deadlines and adversity. It’s always motivating to see how driven my colleagues are.

Samantha

For sure. So if you had advice you could give to someone who wants to work in this field, what would it be? And are there any misconceptions in the field to be aware of?

Simon

I think the number one misconception is that the space industry is often perceived as a solely technical field. In reality, you don’t need to be an engineer to participate. It’s inherently a multidisciplinary industry, and requires people from all sorts of different backgrounds. Be it legal, or engineering, or science, or HR, or media, the skill sets required for different missions are all over the place. The space industry really needs people from all sorts of different backgrounds, so don’t pigeonhole yourself and feel intimidated if you don’t fit into the classic STEM box. If there’s any advice I’d give, it’s pursue whatever piques your interest. Then if you want to work in the space industry, find that intersection between space and whatever your field is, because it has to exist.

Samantha

In terms of Kepler’s future, are there any specific projects or future company endeavours you are specifically excited about?

Simon

I’m really excited about the long term vision that Kepler has of establishing itself as the preeminent data relay for other space assets. There’s a real clear need for the service given the amount of space missions which remain data-limited, and establishing our network as the one that will effectively support and unlock all other sorts of space operations is very motivating. And if we’re projecting into the future a bit further down the line, the prospect of potentially being the first company to establish this type of network to serve the moon or other locations in our solar system, would be particularly exciting. Since I’ve begun in the space industry I’ve had my sights on eventually contributing to a project that goes beyond Earth’s orbit.

Samantha

This might be the most important question that I have. Do you have a favorite space movie franchise?

Simon

Not a franchise, but I really like the movie Arrival. It’s based on one of my favorite science fiction short stories, which is “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. The movie was really well executed, and added to what I loved in the short story.

Samantha

Since you’re currently working from Montreal, I gotta ask, what’s your favorite restaurant in Toronto? 

Simon

Ramen Raijin on Wellesley, they have a monthly ramen flavor, which is always fun to try out.

Samantha

That sounds really good, I have to try that sometime. Are there any recommendations for any poutinerie in Toronto, or do I have to come to Montreal?

Simon

Yeah, come to Montreal. We’ll show you what poutine is.

Samantha

And lastly, any concluding remarks, any questions I should have asked you, but I missed?

Simon

No, I think that’s pretty good. I was being flippant with the poutine comment, but Smoke’s Poutinerie in Toronto is actually not bad.


Interested in joining our team? Check out our Careers Page. For more information visit www.kepler.space and @KeplerComms

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