University of Otago graduate Dr AnnMarie Oien, who now
works for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, encourages fellow
graduates going to the United States to join Alumni of
University of Otago America Inc. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A University of Otago graduate has told her story about
how she went from Dunedin to working for a United States
company that sends satellites into orbit around Earth.
Dr AnnMarie Oien graduated from Otago with a physics PhD in
1996 and after working in Colorado helping develop lasers, in
2007 she took a position at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, an
$US8 billion-a-year-revenue company.
She told the story at a lecture at Otago University yesterday
and shared some tips about adjusting to life in United
These tips included adjusting to left-hand drive vehicles,
something which took her many years to achieve.
''Approach your car slowly and peer in to see where the
steering wheel is before getting in.''
Many of her successes came as a result of looking at what
were seemingly failures, as opportunities.
She got a job for a Colorado research company in 1997 after
unsuccessfully applying for a lectureship at Otago University
and secured a position at Lockheed Martin Space Systems after
a $50 million research proposal was turned down.
Her job title now was ''lead of lean six sigma'', which
involved finding ways to identify and eliminate waste and
This involved identifying the process by which products are
made, which was an important role, because the company was
expected to become more efficient each time it fulfilled new
''We build the GPS navigation satellites and we build not
just one, but a constellation of five or six and the
Government sets up a contract expecting what they call a
`learning curve', which means that we have to get cheaper and
better each time we build one of these things,'' she said.
Dr Oien also spoke about her role as secretary of the Alumni
of University of Otago America Inc and encouraged graduates
who shifted to the United States to become members.