Empowering all Women, in Space and on Earth

Skills Summit 2023: Exploring the Future of Aerospace

During this panel session, you will get a well-rounded overview of current research, initiatives and remaining road blocks in regards to growing and future-proofing of the European talent pool. The discussion will be interesting for graduates entering the sector and established professionals thinking about a career change; HR experts and individual job seekers; educators shaping the curriculum at schools and universities; as well as everyone else who is interested in the future of Learning & Development. The panel will conclude with a Q&A.


Vera Pinto, EU Commission

Vera Pinto Gomes, who works as a Policy Coordinator and Equality Coordinator at the European Commission Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS). She currently works at the Unit responsible for Secure connectivity, Space surveillance and Applications. Vera’s main area of interest is business development, space innovation and social innovation.

Ioannis Lentas, EUSPA

Ioannis Lentas is the Seconded National Expert in HR with the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). Prior to this, he was the Head of the Performance Management Department, Greek Ministry of Finance, and has held roles as an HR expert in private and public organisations.

Ioannis has been responsible for designing and providing training programs, conducting job analysis and job evaluation, and implementing performance management strategies. He has also focused on building and developing competency-based HRM systems that aligned with the organisations’ goals and objectives. He has designed and conducted statistical analysis for job satisfaction and job engagement surveys to assess the effectiveness of HR programs and services.

Ioannis has participated in many working and advisory groups in the European Union and OECD for HR issues. He was also the initiator and project leader for developing the EU Tax Administration HR maturity model. He is also a trainer in public administration and knowledge management courses in the Greek Public Administration School. Ioannis holds a BSc in Sociology and an MSc in Human Resource Development.

Lucy van der Tas, European Space Agency

Lucy has worked in the Human Resources Department of the European Space Agency for nearly 40 years and she is based at ESA’s technical centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. She has held a variety of roles in recruitment and training, including leading the ESTEC Training Service from 1995 until 2010, when she became an HR Advisor. In this role, she was responsible for recruitment and career management for one of the largest ESA engineering directorates.

In October 2020, she was selected to lead ESA’s newly created Talent Acquisition Team. She and her team market ESA as an employer with a view to attracting candidates from a wide range of backgrounds to apply for its vacancies.

Dr Heidi Thiemann, Space Skills Alliance

Heidi is the co-founder and director of the Space Skills Alliance (SSA), a think tank, consultancy, and backbone organisation addressing the space skills gap. Since co-founding SSA in 2019, Heidi has become recognised as a leader in the space skills landscape. Previously, she led the Cornwall Space and Aerospace Technology Training programme, developing the first national HNC/HND curriculum for the space sector and supporting local businesses to identify and fill their skills gaps.

Heidi holds a PhD in Astrophysics from the Open University, and a MPhys in Physics with Space Science and Technology from the University of Leicester.

Dr Christie Maddock, University of Strathclyde

Dr Maddock is an Associate Professor at the University of Strathclyde, with expertise in trajectory and system design optimisation for aerospace vehicles, and space launch systems with more than 15 years experience. Before joining academia, she worked as a satellite telecommunications engineer in both the private and public sector, and was a member of the Canadian delegation to the UN International Telecommunication Union.

In addition to Dr Maddock’s teaching remit, her expertise has been applied to a number of technical consultancy projects with a number of UK-based launch companies, including Orbital Access Ltd, and Orbital Cargo Drone as well as larger companies such as Reaction Engines Ltd. She is a member of the IAF Space Transportation Committee and standing session chair at the International Astronautical Congress.

Dr Maddock is Chair of the Space Scotland’s Skills Gap Working Group and the University’s Women in Science & Engineering Committee, and is a member of the Women in Aerospace Europe (WIA-E) Working Group on Skills Gap in Aerospace.

She is a technical lead on the Horizon Europe project ASTRAIOS, which will analyse the needs from the European space industry in the next 10-15 years and identify actionable ways towards a better alignment between the o­ffered educational programmes and the skills required by the future European space industry.

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