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Photo by Robert Dickehut

As a boy in Asheboro, North Carolina, George Sondecker (MBA 2016) developed a fondness for launching rockets that evolved into a passion for working in the aerospace industry. A fellowship provided by gifts to the HBS Fund is helping him pursue an MBA to acquire the business skills he will need for the next phase of his career.

“I see business playing an increasingly important role in the aerospace industry, going beyond just having the engineering know-how to build a spacecraft. In the past, spacecraft were primarily built and operated by national governments. Today, access to space-based technology is expanding rapidly as the industry is being reinvigorated with new competitors and advanced electronics, materials, and manufacturing processes,” says Sondecker.

His interest in aerospace began in earnest when patriotism inspired Sondecker to enroll at the US Air Force Academy. “I was a freshman in high school when the 9/11 attacks happened. That event had a significant impact on me,” he explains. After the Academy, he earned a master of science degree at MIT and then worked for three years at the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. Sondecker became the program manager for a project there that was focused on developing and launching low-cost, small satellites as an alternative to larger and more expensive conventional satellites. The experience of working with a more cost-effective technology gave him a better understanding of the need to enhance his business acumen if he wanted to become a leader in the industry.

Sondecker, who is a US Air Force Reservist, credits the financial aid he received with furthering his career goals. “The fellowship is a tremendous help, enabling me to attend HBS to develop skills critical to maximizing my contribution to an industry I am genuinely interested in—aerospace,” he says. “I look forward to having the opportunity to pay it forward someday.”

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