Ceyda Tunarli
28 Apr 2020



Project Manager in the Space Engineering and Technology Division


​​​​​​Ceyda Tunarli, Project Manager in the Space Engineering and Technology Division

Credit: STFC RAL Space/ Ceyda Tunarli
​How did you get into your job?
After I finished my BSc in Industrial Engineering in Turkey, I studied in France for my masters degree followed by five months internship at EADS Sogerma (today part of Airbus group). This was the first time I was living alone and working in a foreign country and it contributed a lot to my personal development and broadened my professional vision. I am still very grateful to my line manager, I was very privileged to be the first foreign employee in their company.

After working back in Istanbul, I was fortunate to get a job as a project manager in Ankara and posted as an expat in France. Thanks to this project, I have been involved in the whole lifecycle of a satellite project from design and test through to the operations phase. I was even present at the launch of the satellite in French Guiana in 2016.

I met my husband when we were expats and had both been working in the space industry for many years. We both found jobs at RAL Space, my husband as a spacecraft thermal engineer. As a project manager, I thought I might find a job in many sectors but to be honest, my heart was always in the space industry so that I could use my previous experience and widen my knowledge further. 

Why is your role important?
We are entering a Project Economy era. Apart from standard operations, you cannot manage scientific, innovation and transformation activities without a “project” approach. There will always be different areas of expertise managed by line managers to share and grow the knowledge in a specific domain but the Project Managers are gathering different skills from different groups to work together for a common goal. This can be a hardware, software or even intangible know-hows/skills. As project manager, I’m in charge of managing a team to deliver the project on time, on budget and to the quality specified in the requirements while managing all communications with various stakeholders and suppliers.

What's the best thing about your job?
All the projects are unique by definition. This means that each project has a new scope, new team members, new stakeholders. You can renew yourself and develop yourself continuously. The space industry is the future for humankind. 

What do you value about working for RAL Space?
RAL Space gives priority to staff’s wellbeing more than anything else. The policy on equality and diversity is very encouraging for me to envisage a long career as a foreigner and as a woman.

What advice would you give to people looking for a job in our industry?             
Do not think that the space sector is “rocket science” and you are not good at science. There is a lot of work for all. I am probably the only industrial engineer working in space from my university. I always wanted to be different from my colleagues; this sector offered me this opportunity. I feel like I’m doing a very special job.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self? 
First, respect yourself and the others. Pay attention to your wellbeing. 

Ceyda Tunarli standing in front of a lake 

2002-2006 - While studyin​g Industrial Engineering at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, Turkey

Ceyda Tunarli with a beach promenade in the background

2010-2013 - My first step into the space industry as expat in South of France

Ceyda Tunarli at Mission Control

2016 - One of the most exciting moments​ of my life, at launch day in French Guiana