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Retired Marine Corps Officer Joseph Horvath Shares His Journey to Becoming CEO of Nova Space

Nova Space

In this series, I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing some of the world’s most interesting entrepreneurs. Recently, I caught up with the CEO of Nova Space, Joseph Horvath. 

Joseph has two decades of experience in space and astronautics with an extensive network across industry and the Department of Defense. While serving as a Marine Corps officer, he was the Service’s Senior Space Operations officer, leading professional development, training, education, policy, and exercise design. His educational background includes a BS in Astrophysics and an MS in Space Systems Operations, as well as being a former DARPA Service Chiefs fellow. His work has been published in multiple journals, and includes “A Hybrid Routing Protocol for Space-Based Networks,” “Space Operations for the Warfighter,” and “The Marine Space Support Team Concept.”

The following is a snippet of our conversation…

JW: How did you get started in the Space Industry?

JH: I have been passionate about space and the sciences since I was a kid, but my journey was not a straight path. In fact, I almost went to college to be a jazz musician, believe it or not.   After earning my Bachelor’s in Astrophysics, I became a Marine and was a helicopter pilot for a decade. I was fortunate to spend the second half of my military career focused solely on space operations. As I was nearing retirement, I teamed with my co-founder, Christopher Allen, to tackle the challenge of professional development in the space industry based on what I had seen and experienced first-hand. 

JW: What does Nova Space do?

JH: Nova Space provides training, education, and professional development to the space industry in support of both individuals and organizations. We do this through industry-leading digital, asynchronous courseware and certifications. The key to our success is that we do not use traditional lecture- and slide-based formats, but utilize cutting-edge simulation and allow our students to learn and practice through experience.  The value in this is that it better solidifies behaviors and knowledge, providing increased competence and confidence after the courses are completed.

JW: How does what you do help others? 

JH: Within my company, my goal is to be a servant leader. I see my role as helping to provide the tools and support to allow those around me to succeed and to remove impediments to that success. The same mentality goes into the business. Our goal is to empower the individual, to enhance their knowledge, skills, and performance. The outcome of this is to further their own careers, as well as those of the companies or organizations they support.

JW: What makes you and your company different within your industry? 

JH: Within the space industry and economy, most companies are focused on developing new technologies and capabilities to serve their customer base. Nova Space is focused on the human element. Our goal is to set a new standard in digitally delivered training, education, and professional development for individuals and organizations within the space industry.  Providing our courses digitally establishes a level of standardization that is not possible through live lecture-based courses. This improves communication, performance, creativity, and ultimately, increased business or organizational outcomes.

JW: How did you make a name for yourself in the space industry? 

JH: My reputation within this industry comes from years of experience across government and industry involved directly in space operations. Having been the senior Marine Space officer for many years, I was fortunate to develop an extensive network and prove myself as a thought leader, able to establish, communicate, and accomplish organizational goals.

JW: What obstacles did you face to get to where you are now? 

JH: As an active-duty Marine, I was honored and challenged by living all over the country and having a wide variety of experiences. This can be challenging when we’re required to grow and build new relationships every few years, as well as regularly reestablishing credibility within new organizations. 

JW: How did you overcome these obstacles? 

JH: I was fortunate to have several outstanding leaders and mentors who both challenged me and taught me how to excel in these or any environment. Though on the flip-side, I likely learned just as much from poor leaders who I would not want to emulate. One thing I specifically recommend to people is to set aside time to think and reflect. Too often, we move from task to task without taking time to analyze, ponder, brainstorm, or just let our brains be creative. I personally believe this is critical to developing solutions to challenging problems.  

JW: What keeps you motivated? 

JH: Seeing those around me succeed. Tackling tough problems. I also have a book on my desk of every U.S. Medal of Honor recipient throughout history. If ever I am having a tough day, I can open that to any page and read about someone who accomplished the impossible, and realize I have no reason to complain today. 

JW: What tips do you have for those who want to work in the space industry?

JH: The space industry is absolutely exploding today and will continue this trend into the future. Morgan Stanley predicts the revenue generated by the global space industry may increase to more than $1 trillion by 2040. With this amount of investment and growth, there is a place for a very wide range of careers, not just scientists and engineers. All of these companies will need project managers, computer programmers, human resource professionals, lawyers, technicians, graphic designers, accountants, and more. The key to joining the industry is gaining enough background on how and why we use space to be a useful contributor to the organization. With that continual professional development, the sky is no longer the limit; we are headed into space.  

For more, be sure to follow Joseph on LinkedIn.

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