A path less travelled to propelling exploration

Imelda Alexopoulos, Director of Exploration at Fleet Space Technologies –

From receiving a Bachelor of Biomedical Science to becoming a successful retail banking manager, to then building a high-powered career in professional services consulting – at face value, this doesn’t sound like a road that leads to the defence and space industries. But this less travelled path is the one that Imelda Alexopoulos has taken, and she is not looking back.

After serving in the Navy, Imelda Alexopoulos’ father settled in Queensland and began a career as a pipefitter, following in his own father’s footsteps working underground in the mines.

When it became time for Imelda to choose her career path, however, it was neither defence nor mining that were in her sights.

With a passion for understanding how things work and why, Imelda opted for a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences at James Cook University.

“I loved the breadth of Biomedical Sciences. Everything from genetics to botany, microbiology, biochemistry and neuropharmacology – it was all so fascinating!” said Imelda of her degree. “But when it came time to find a job, I wanted to find a role that wasn’t purely research. I enjoyed interacting with people too much to be confined to a lab.”

So, post-graduation, Imelda took her people skills to Cairns and Brisbane, joining a large bank and working her way up to Branch Manager.

Through a conversation with a customer, it was discovered that Imelda not only had a science degree, but a strong capability to understand scientific processes and to translate difficult information in an easy-to-understand way. This led to a job as a Senior Consultant at PwC.

“Consulting was a big change for me, and the part of the firm I was in was quite different in its own right,” explained Imelda. “In my team we had many different areas of expertise such as geology, engineering, and mathematics so we could understand and translate our clients’ businesses and R&D projects,” she added.

Spending more than fifteen years at PwC, Imelda’s role expanded and changed significantly. This included her achieving a Graduate Certificate of Chartered Accounting, being appointed to Partner, leading the Financial Advisory and Social Impact teams in SA, and later foraying into the space and defence industries.

“I began working with businesses in the defence industry, and then later became the Australian point of contact at PwC for our Global Space Practice,” Imelda reflected. “I had always been curious about the defence industry, but I wasn’t quite sure how my skills would translate. However, as an industry that values diversity of thought, the ability to think non-conventionally, and to understand and translate technical capabilities, my skills were very much transferrable to defence,” she added.

So, when Fleet Space Technologies wanted to discuss a potential role with Imelda, having not followed a conventional path throughout her career, Imelda jumped at the chance.

“There aren’t always a lot of opportunities in life to reset your career, so I really wanted to make sure I was jumping into something inspiring, where I could continue to develop and learn, and where I could make a difference every day!” said Imelda of the role at Fleet Space Technologies. “Fleet Space’s Exploration Office is all of that and more,” she added.

With a founding vision to connect the Earth, Moon and Mars, Imelda’s role at Fleet Space allows her to explore many of the most pressing challenges humanity faces, on this planet and beyond, and to help find new applications where Fleet Space can make an impact.

“I get to work with space-enabled technologies such as ExoSphere, that revolutionised the exploration of critical minerals on Earth, as well as work on projects like the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars: Demonstrator Program,” said Imelda excitedly. “I am combining all my skills to propel space exploration forward, while also involved in defence and mining just as my grandfather and father were. Life has, in a way, come full circle for me.”

When asked about her advice for anyone else looking to work in the defence or space industries, Imelda effused, “It’s such an exciting industry to be in, and one that will have massive impact for decades to come. There are so many opportunities available, and so many skills that are transferable. Never stop exploring!”

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