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Five Lessons for a Successful STEM Career

Iris Bombelyn

On Saturday, Oct. 19, Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communications and program manager of Lockheed Martin’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite program, was honored for career achievement during the 18th annual Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) conference.

Iris’s success is the culmination of invaluable qualities, experiences and challenges that have helped her excel in the STEM field. During her career, she learned five valuable lessons that future generations of STEM professionals can emulate:

1.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Keep learning every day.

Iris was the first in her family to receive a college degree, but that did not stop her from completing both a bachelor of science in engineering from Washington State University and a master’s in business administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, as a Sloan Fellow. Iris put her career on hold while she went back to school for her MBA, a risk worth taking.

2.  The hardest thing in life to do is to figure out what you want. Once you figure that out, the rest is easy.

Iris’s career was influenced by her parents and their belief that hard work and leadership were crucial to success. Using that philosophy, Iris was intentional with the opportunities she pursued. Iris wanted a job where she made a difference and was continuously challenged. As vice president for MUOS, Bombelyn leads hundreds of employees who are delivering a satellite and ground system that will allow better communications for warfighters in the field to make smartphone-like mobile connections with digital data and voice.

3.  Everyone wants respect.

Iris was encouraged by both parents to “be the best person you can be,” a goal she focuses on in every facet of her work. Iris established a management style that “seeks to understand” all opinions before making a final decision. She strives to continuously meet demanding challenges in the most professional and ethical manner.

4.  It is hard to tell a joke in another language. A shared laugh is a good bond.

Iris is multilingual and has spent major parts of her career in Russia and the United States. She has worked most of her life with diverse teams. Her cross-cultural sensitivity and ability to engender trust have contributed to successful customer relationships. It takes dedication, and Iris is no stranger to hard work. She received her black belt in ju-jitsu after training for 8 ½ hours a week for three years and continued teaching for another six years.

5.  Skills can be taught. Attitude can only be modeled.

Sometimes it takes coaching to approach challenges with the right attitude. Iris mentors future generations of STEM leaders, including college students through MentorNet, an e-mail mentoring network for diverse engineering and science students. She also invests her time in supporting the development of future Lockheed Martin leaders through her active leadership with the Corporation’s Women’s Leadership Forum and the Council of Asian American Leaders leadership forum.

Posted October 17, 2013

highlights
  • Fun Fact: Iris is multilingual and has earned a black belt in ju-jitsu.
  • Iris completed a bachelor of science in engineering from Washington State University and a master’s in business administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, as a Sloan Fellow.
  •  Iris mentors future generations of STEM leaders, including college students through MentorNet.
  • Iris is an active leader in Lockheed Martin’s Women’s Leadership Forum and the Council for Asian American Leaders leadership forum.


MUOS STEM

Iris is an active leader in Lockheed Martin’s Women’s Leadership Forum, Council for Asian American Leaders leadership forum in addition to several other Lockheed Martin diversity groups.  Bombelyn is pictured here with Frederick Hawthorne, director of Quality at Lockheed Martin, at the African American Leadership Forum Conference.