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by | Dec 19, 2016

Employee profile: jane vail

Meet Jane Vail, Director of Program Management at BlackSky.


Q: What do you do for BlackSky?

A: I’ve been at Spaceflight Industries, working on BlackSky, since April 2015. My areas of responsibilities lie across the organization, formally and informally – the beauty of working in a startup environment is that there’s a job description and then there’s what you do to get stuff done. My primary responsibility is to run program management for the flight and ground and control engineering in the Seattle office; however, I’m also involved in building out the product operations function, which is focused on working across the whole company to be ready to sell and support our products and services when they’re released.

Previous to SFI, I worked at some local technology companies (including Apptio, Isilon and Aventail) working within the engineering function. I joined most of these organizations at the earlier stages and all were companies that were/are wildly successful. Being able to experience rapid growth and understand firsthand the successes and pains that come with that growth was a great learning opportunity.


Q: What interests you about space? 

A: Who didn’t dream of being an astronaut when they were little? (Though if you have the chance to be Batman, always be Batman.)


Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

A: What I would like to say: I have an active lifestyle, running the gamut from scaling mountains, conquering Iron Man triathlons and dominating tennis tournaments. Mentoring the Most Interesting Man in the World also keeps me wildly busy. What is truth: I eat a lot and try to keep up with my two young kids.


Q: Star Wars, Star Trek or The Martian?

A: The Martian, but the book, not the movie. I can’t remember, did Disney make the movie? Because it sure felt like it.


Q: If you were to mentor someone who wanted to do what you do, what advice would you give them?

A: In no particular order:

  • Love getting stuff done, and love building a team that enjoys getting stuff done together.
  • Write it down somewhere everyone can access it. Then communicate it. Then communicate again. And again. And again.
  • When things (inevitably) change, update what you wrote down. Then communicate that.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • Have a sense of humor.
  • Be flexible.
  • Try not to be a jackass.


Q: Would you interested in going to Mars or another planet someday? 
A: I’ve been accused of living on other planets in the past – I might as well make it a reality.


Q: What’s one thing that most people at BlackSky don’t know about you?

A: I’m not as cool as they think I am. (That’s what they think, right? Right?) Oh, and that I was incredibly, painfully shy growing up. Had plenty of opinions, but didn’t feel comfortable expressing them. Oh, how times have changed.