Diversity in Leadership: GoGeomatics interviews Marwan Haroun
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Diversity in Leadership: GoGeomatics Interviews CSA’s Marwan Haroun

Diversity enhances more than just innovation and creativity.

To show the importance of diversity, GoGeomatics has created a series highlighting diversity leadership in the Canadian Geomatics community. GoGeomatics was able to interview Marwan Haroun, Project Manager with CSA (Canadian Space Agency), as part of the Diversity in Leadership series.

GoGeomatics: Where are you from, and where are you now?

Marwan Haroun, Project Manager at CSA.

Marwan: I grew up in a small suburb in the north of Beirut, Lebanon. I also lived in Madrid, Spain for a bit after I moved there in 2013. I have lived in Montreal since 2018.

GoGeomatics: You could have picked anywhere in the world to live. Why did you choose Canada?

Marwan: I chose Canada because I speak the languages, because part of my family was already here, and because I knew I would be able to pursue the direction that I wanted for my career. On top of being a welcoming and supportive country, Canada focuses a lot on its high tech sectors (in my case the Space industry), all of which are projected to grow in the coming years and decades, and I wanted to be part of that.

GoGeomatics: Why did you become a Project Manager, and where did you go to school?

Marwan: I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering. I then did a Masters in Management and worked in administration for many years. During that time, I started teaching myself programming and managing information systems. I began developing software for data collection, and later for instruments and robotic systems. In 2020, I worked on a research project with the NRC’s Aerial Robotics lab, which unexpectedly turned into a thesis for a Master in Aerospace Engineering. I joined the CSA shortly after that.

GoGeomatics: What interested you in working for CSA and how did you get hired?

Marwan: I’ve always been fascinated about space. I love engineering and working on complex technical projects, so when I saw a job opening at CSA for Project Managers I jumped at the opportunity. To get hired, I underwent an arduous staffing process, including exams, interviews and security clearance. It was long and tough, but fair, and definitely worth it.

GoGeomatics: What does a Project Manager with CSA do on a day-to-day basis? What are your responsibilities?

Marwan: As a Project Manager, I work on building Earth Observation Satellites (often called EO Satellites). These satellites collect data and images for many government departments, academics, Canadian companies and the Canadian public. They help in things like snow monitoring, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, fishing and agriculture, and many more. On a day to day basis, I coordinate with team members, prepare and maintain project plans, oversee the schedule and budget of the project, work with external contractors, report to directors and other managers, and many other things.

GeoIgnite Calgary Career Fair

GoGeomatics: Why is your job important?

Marwan: My job is important because the satellites I work on solve so many problems here on earth and make the life of Canadians easier. This type of work is important because it makes sure that Canada is well established in the space industry, which is expected to grow a lot in the coming years, create more jobs, and ensure that we stay on the forefront of innovation.

GoGeomatics: Can you describe how a particular satellite helped to solve a particular problem facing Canadians as an example?


Marwan: RADARSAT images provide timely and accurate images that help farmers assess and manage the conditions of their fields (source). In other instances, RADARSAT data is used to assess the safety of ice in northern regions (source). SCISAT, another Canadian satellite, has helped detect pollutants in the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect, and which had never been detected from space before (source)

GoGeomatics: Is being bilingual an important part of your job and career advancement?

Marwan: I speak English, French, and Arabic. Being fluent in both official languages has been essential for my job. As a government employee, I communicate in either language and I’m often in meetings or exchanges where both languages are being used. Not being fluent in both would seriously hamper my ability to ingest and transmit information on the job. 

GoGeomatics: Canada has become more diverse and inclusive, and the federal government workforce reflects that. What can be done to continue the positive steps for inclusiveness and diversity when hiring the next generation of scientists and engineers?

Canadian Space Agency

Marwan: From the earliest stages of recruitment, there is a strong focus on diversity and inclusiveness, and a lot of encouragement to self-identify as a member of an underrepresented group. This is crucial because it helps break the stigma that a lot of underrepresented individuals feel, and creates a paradigm shift that makes us see diversity as a strength instead of a weakness. The more the federal government presents diversity as empowering, the more inclusive and representative of the broader population (which as you point out is very diverse) it will be. The more this paradigm shift is communicated to the public, the more the next generation of scientists and engineers will feel included and will want to participate in the next generation of projects.

GoGeomatics: Can you explain the importance of diversity leadership in organizations like CSA?

Marwan: Diversity in leadership plays two very important roles: it creates role models that are
representative of the entire population, so that anyone can look up to them and think, “This could
be me.” It also puts in place leaders who are very conscious of existing biases in society, and
who have sometimes experienced these biases first hand. This allows organizations like the CSA
to stay aware of the risks that prejudiced groups face, and ensure fair treatment based on skills
and merit.

GoGeomatics: Where do you see your career heading over the next 5-10 years? Continuing in Government or something else?

Marwan: I definitely see myself continuing on my current path and contributing to Canada’s Space program.

GoGeomatics: For those interested in a career with CSA, what advice can you give? How can people apply?

Marwan : The best advice I can give is to start by assessing what you like to do, then do your homework on how the government (and specifically the CSA) works and hires. Identify the gaps that you’re facing and focus on how to fill those gaps. Keep an eye on job openings on the government’s website, apply when you see a fit and make sure you respond to the job posting with precision and accuracy. Be patient, and keep applying whenever you find a good fit!

GoGeomatics wishes to extend a deep, heartfelt thank-you to Marwan Haroun for his time and knowledge.

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