Florence Tela
Ms Florence Tela
Senior Manager (MSOL2sys), Intelsat
Alpharetta, GA

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Close Up
  • Describe what you do in your current work situation.
    In my current work I work with Design & implementation of Ground Network systems which complement Intelsat's satellite fleet to provide end to end communications for customers across the globe. The technologies I work to support include Digital Video Braodcast (DVB) systems, iDirect technologies, Cisco networking technology, etc. I also lead & Resolve Network Operations Center (NOC) 7x24 escalated problems during working hours or on call (that is when off the clock on some nights, holidays or weekends. I also provide technical support to the NOC, Satellite Control Center (SCC), Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) Hub stations & International Operations Center (IOC) on all aspects of Ground Network Engineering operations and correcting system problems.
  • Why did you choose engineering?
    As far back as I can remember, I have always loved math and science and a good challenge. I always dreamt of doing something that required this skill set. I was very lucky to have a father who challenged me in math and encouraged me to tackle sciences. I thought about possible careers that would allow me to use math and science and did not settle on Engineering until my last year in high school when my dad took me to his work place where I met some telecommunication engineers and spent a day observing and asking questions about what they did. I loved the way logics and creativity came together and I wanted to become an engineer. My mind got made up when the team challenged me to apply for engineering and promised to provide my first programmable calculator if I got accepted into Engineering school. Needless to say, I took the challenge.
  • Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
    For Engineering school I first studied in Moi University of Science and technology in Eldoret, Kenya. I obtained an honors degree as a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Communications Engineering. I also obtained a Masters of Science in Telecommunications Engineering and management at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA. Due to the fast changing pace of technology, I have also kept learning through participation in work shops, certifications and manufacturer training.
  • What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
    The activities that have been typically a part of my work include:- -creativity -trouble shooting -Building communication systems -Project management
  • What do you like best about being an engineer?
    I like being able to work in extremely diverse teams where ideas thrive into tangible products that can be used by clients worldwide in meeting their business needs. I also love that during some projects, there is a lot of travel to different places in our globe.
  • Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
    I am proud of being part of the team that built and provided emergency telecommunication services to Indonesia following the Tsunami. I remember doing with less than 4 hours sleep each day during that February month, but the staisfaction of providing communications to aid in the rescue and rebuild was priceless.
  • What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
    The engineering career has been pre-dominantly male even in this 21st century. My first shock in the field was when I interned at the Kenya Railways Electrical department and there was no women's restroom because the infrastructure did not foresee women entering that field. Other challenges have been the absence of mentors and coaches who can guide women especially earlier on in their career. Having to always put in extra effort before peers can accept your contribution as equals is also a problem that surfaces every time teams change or the career opportunity changes.
  • Please tell us a little about your family.
    I am the oldest of 4 sibblings. I grew up as a child of two worlds. School time was spent in the city where both my parents lived and worked and all school holidays were spent in the country with my grandparents. My father was an accountant and my mother was a secretary. Ours was one of the earliest two parent working families and we had to assume responsibilities around the house to ensure a balanced family life for all of us. My family has always been supportive of my endevours and now that I have my own family, I can use some of the parenting skills I observed when I was a child in Kenya in raising my own children here in the USA. An engineer is a good observer and can analyze issues and draw conclusions. Engineering has taken me places and opened up opportunities for me and my husband and children.
  • What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
    I would like to move from an individual contributor to management. In the long term I see myself in the executive suite and playing more of a leader role in the industry in terms of consultancy, etc. I feel like a moving library of information and i have to find a way of sharing this for the next generation of engineers.
  • What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
    My father, David Akoto who has never doubted my capabilities even in an environment where nobody gave a woman a chance to succeed. Engineer Majani for providing mentoring and direction during my early career choices. Successful woman and engineer migwalla, unfortunately I lost touch with her but I learnt a lot about professionalism by observing her management style when i was a trainee egineer with Kenya Posts and Telecommunications in the early 1990's.
  • What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
    By all means do it. Do not shy away from sciences. Do not be ashamed to ask for advice and always let your voice be heard.
  • Any other stories or comments you would like to share with EngineerGirl visitors?
    By all means do it. Do not shy away from sciences. Do not be ashamed to ask for advice and always let your voice be heard.
  • Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
    I love sports especially basketball. i have been able to infect all my children with the love of the outdoors and active participation in sports. When time allows, i act as coach and sometimes I am just the driver to sporting events. I always find time to pull out a book and read. I am currently reading It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor by Rebecca Shambaugh. I read industry journals from IEEE and other professional organizations to keep abreast with technology. I also do light reading like the Reader's digest. I also regularly participate in a local congregation to help keep my focus and hope alive.
Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as a sponsor or coach for an engineering club or team.
Latest Questions
  • Rimsha, Karachi asked Florence Tela, Intelsat

    Added Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    Hi Florence! Hope you are doing good...I am very shy enough to share my ideas and questions with anyone i am going to be an engineer in future but the thing is that i could not develop confidence in myself..VI don't answer the question when teacher ask even though I knew the answer..I don't ask questions although I know I have a lot of questions in my head lots..I don't ask my teacher but rather I google it or watch a tutorial on that topic to clear my concepts.. I just want to know how I can ...
    Related to Difficult Classes, Self Doubt
    Answers 0
  • Jada , Ipswich

    Added Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 4:35 AM

    I'm a 15 year old girl looking at becoming an electrical engineer after I leave school. I'm not the best at math and science but I enjoy learning about both subjects I'm looking at improving these areas though because I feel as if I might just be slacking off with studying but anyways... I have a heard that becoming an electrical engineer is very difficult I was wondering if you had any tips for me on getting ready for the course or maybe even short courses I can take now? even study tips or ...
    Answers 1
    Florence Tela, Intelsat
    Answered Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 4:35 AM
    Hi Jada,
    
    Whereas math and physics are basics in the study of electrical engineering, most good schools lay a foundation and build precept upon precept. The depth of material increases with each college year, e.g., the first college year may have the ...
    Read More
  • Jiminy, Jacksonville, Florida asked Florence Tela, Intelsat

    Added Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Hello Mrs. Florence, I read your profile and I think you are the right person to discuss my doubt with. My name is Jiminy. I got my degree as Electrical Engineer, major in Power in Venezuela, South America, and I want to study a master's degree in USA. I can't decide between a Master in Science in Electrical Engineering or a Master in Engineering Management, very different options. Which could be my best option? I would like to study the MEM but I don't know if it is better, in my case, to ...
    Related to Choosing a Degree, Electrical
    Answers 1
    Florence Tela, Intelsat
    Answered Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM
    Hi Jiminy,
    
    A lot of engineers start of working in the technical world and continue in that track or branch off to project or program management and /or personnel management. I would suggest that if you are already working in the technical field but ...
    Read More
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