Kristina Tamane - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Space Business Development Executive
School of GeoSciences
University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Born in Russia
As odd as it might sound, it was probably amazing science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke who first interested me in all things science and engineering. My other big inspiration was my dad, who self-taught C++ whilst working as a radio engineer on a ship. I always liked understanding how things come together, how they work, from everyday objects like cars, to the formation of the Universe. I adore problems and science is full of them.
My primary function now is to understand spacebased research at the university and link that research to industry needs, and vice versa. This means I need to understand the current state of the space market globally and identify opportunities for collaboration. It’s an incredibly exciting role as I frequently find myself at the forefront of innovation.
I’ve always been driven and found standing still near impossible. As a result, I secured fairly senior roles when I was quite young. My biggest challenge has been to feel like I’ve earned my place as there have been times when I’ve experienced judgement and knock-backs due to being seen as junior or inexperienced or not worthy.
Hard work, determination, and continued learning with a focus on results is how I’ve overcome these challenges. It took me a long while to develop self-belief and I have amazing colleagues to thank for that journey. I still stumble and occasionally experience impostor syndrome, but as a life-long learner I hope this will quiet down.
What I know now is not to worry about convention and to let your personality show. It took some time to feel like I can be me in the workplace. What makes work fun and interesting are the unique perspectives and experiences people bring with them. When I let my personality through, that was when my success stories started to build up.
So be you. Because you = unique = interesting = what counts. This is a great time to go into STEM. Do not feel like you have to act boy-like to be a success: be you and instead bring your unique perspectives to these interesting problems we all face.
You might still find that the world of STEM is largely male due to historical reasons. But what will catapult us ahead and bring awesome innovation into our lives is the coming mix of boys and girls from all kinds of backgrounds working together unlike ever before. And whilst we are transitioning into this new STEM world, help other girls and women around you if you see them struggle. We can achieve so much more if we approach problems together, as humans.