Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, is In Conversation with Anushka Sharma as part of her regular series for ‘iGlobal’ to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians.
Anushka (Nush) is fondly referred to as the “space girl” as one of the most influential women in technology in the UK. She is the Founder of Naaut, which provides a 360-degree approach to innovation strategy for space agencies, start-ups, academia, AI accelerators, primes, and deep tech companies. Nush is also Co-Founder of the London Space Network (LSN), behind networking events across London to build and strengthen the UK space community.
How did you begin your journey as the “space girl” and what sparked your love for the wonder that is space?
From childhood, I have always been passionate about space, the planets, constellations and shuttle launches. Truly, I wanted to be an astronaut so you can only imagine the joy of being chosen by NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] to attend the launch of a satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
At the time, I was working in the booming start-up ecosystem and was expanding a 20,000 sq ft co-working space in Shoreditch, east , for product-oriented tech start-ups. It was a huge privilege to attend the NASA Social in person and I realsied that I didn't have to be a rocket scientist or astronaut to work in the space sector.
Since then the rest was history and I have since set up Naaut, in a nod to astronaut, and have worked with clients such as NASA FDL, Disrupt Space, ESA and co-founded The London Space Network in January 2019, a monthly meet-up to strengthen the UK space community.
What has been the life lesson you have learned during the ?
I am comfortable in the stillness of the external factors I cannot control, and this resilience has really come from being a solopreneur.
Anyone who has run a business will tell you how much you learn from failing, the trick is to take the lessons and move forward. I have learnt to move past roadblocks and also to pause to really check in with myself.
Working from home was something that was not new to me. However, I have been able to share and help my friends and family adjust to the new normal. It’s quite possible this will be a longer stretch than we’d all hoped for, so I intend to get through my unread books on my newly reorganised bookshelf in a cheerful rainbow configuration.
If you could go back and give your teenage self one bit of advice, what would it be?
Follow your passions in life, take notice of the things that make you feel alive, and learn what you do not enjoy. If you struggle to find a mentor, then try to follow interesting speakers and industry experts on social media. They will often share advice, articles and books to read etc and in some ways they become a guide.
Keep your influences wide and diverse so you see the fullest picture of the industry and sector that you’d like to shape and effect change in.
What are some words of wisdom you try to live by that you would recommend to the next generation?
There is no Planet B, we must be responsible in our actions as individuals as much as our collective part in society and indeed as humans on Planet Earth.
Space is hard, getting back to the Moon and onto Mars is no easy feat. In doing so, I hope we can unlock the best of minds to ensure the technology and innovations that drive our space goals are used first and foremost to help our planet.
At the heart of everything, we must be kind to one another, ourselves and our environment.
Reena Ranger is the Chair and Co-Founder of . In this exclusive “” series for ‘iGlobal’, the dynamic entrepreneur-philanthropist will be catching up with high-achieving Global Indians across different fields to spotlight some insightful life lessons.
*The views expressed in the answers are of the interviewees.