As Robert Bell, executive director of SSPI and host of the conference series, Leadership in Turbulent Times, explained: “It’s one thing when companies come up with a brilliant innovation and break into a new market. It’s another when they are able to innovate year after year – as Hughes has done for half a century!”
Joining Mr. Bell during the session were four Hughes leaders, including SSPI Hall of Famer Paul Gaske, EVP and GM of the North America Division; Adrian Morris, EVP of engineering; and two engineers who were recognized on SSPI’s “20 under 35” list, Gaurav Bhatia, principal design engineer, and Rohit Iyer Seshadri, senior principal engineer.
The group discussed the fact that beyond the obvious ingredient of hiring bright and highly skilled people, Hughes has created a unique culture and drive to support continuous innovation. In a lively conversation with Mr. Bell, they explored some of the qualities that they feel foster innovation for them and their colleagues.
Alumni recruiting – Hughes not only recruits from the best schools, it also relies on employees who are alumni of specific and select schools to assist with recruiting. That helps to build quick rapport and enables recruits to hear firsthand what it’s like to work at Hughes.
Immediate technical assignments – Once a new hire begins, they receive an immediate technical assignment. Essentially, the employee is told, “Here's a problem and some information you need to know, come back in a few weeks with an answer.” Then, within the first five years of a young engineer’s time at Hughes, they are encouraged to take on multiple projects, so they gain broad experience.
Room to try new things – Hughes leaders prefer to prescribe boundaries and to let employees figure things out on their own without too many hints. Employees then have more ownership in what’s being designed and incentive to see projects to fruition. It also fosters a stronger sense of job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Space for creativity to flourish – The Hughes team stressed that when bright, creative people can work and learn alongside other bright, creative people – and when they’ve all been given the freedom and ability to think for themselves – great ideas emerge.
Mentoring and cross-company exposure – Not only do new hires receive immediate and advanced mentoring within their own area of focus, but they are also introduced to other operations and teams, and even to customers. Because Hughes doesn’t just build equipment, and is also a technology services company, this strategy enables young engineers to gain exposure to all aspects of the business. Additionally, every non-engineering employee – whether in operations or marketing – is encouraged to develop a strong technical base of knowledge. This promotes a much richer dialogue when it comes to solving problems through innovative technology and services.
To hear more about innovation at Hughes, watch the replay of the full discussion. And if the Hughes culture inspires you, visit our careers site to see the positions we have available.