Space Entrepreneur | Pilot | Humanitarian |
President and CEO of the Canadian Aerospace Diversity, Inclusion and Advocacy Council
My name is Aathira Preetharani. I immigrated to Canada in 2018 at the age of 19. I am a space entrepreneur, pilot and humanitarian. I am the President and CEO of the Canadian Aerospace Diversity, Inclusion and Advocacy Council and serve as the Chief Strategy Officer for Talent Remote. I was born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, the southern tip of India. I am also the founder of ExoGeo Inc., a space company focusing on designing and manufacturing modular launch vehicles, to launch Canada into space. My love for aviation and aerospace began as a six year old when my father began working in an airport. The first toy plane I received grew into love for rockets and space. As a visible minority, female, neurodiverse international student in Canada, I faced multiple barriers accessing the space industry. This challenge turned into a passion for turning the space and defense sector of Canada into a more equitable space. I build planes and rockets, test fly my airplanes, volunteer for various causes, carry on space advocacy and get involved in the political landscape of Canada on a daily basis. And yes, I do this in a saree, with red lips and high heels!
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
I came to Canada when I was 19, with a few hundred dollars and a bag of clothes. Everything was new, the culture, the workspace and the people. Add to that , the ambition of launching Canada into space. Intimidating and overwhelming is an understatement. But, soon I learned to trust the process and be persistent in solving different issues. Overtime, I was able to find simple solutions for complex problems by building a strong network, learning better time management skills and getting my environment equipped for my dreams. In four years, I graduated in the Dean’s Honor List, was fortunate to receive the Wayne McIntyre award for leadership from Algonquin College, pursue my pilot’s license, help create the National Occupational Standards for the bio-economy of Canada and launch multiple space ventures focused on research and advocacy. This was possible purely because of the support network and I encourage everyone to consider making a network you can lean on while growing!
What books are you currently reading?
I am currently dabbling in fiction and reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
Please cultivate empathy and kindness. The future of leadership is empathy. The world needs more humanitarians and social advocates who believe in the true power of working together and for the betterment of everyone! To make humans, a space faring civilization, we need more collaboration and less competition.
Social Media Handles:
LinkedIn: Aathira Preetharani