Paul Sheridan was six years old when he watched Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon. “I remember it clearly,” he says. “We were in our little school, all gathered into one room. They wheeled in the trolley with the black and white TV on it, and we watched it all happen.”
From that moment on, Paul wanted to be part of the space industry. So when the Overseas Telecommunications Commission advertised for trainees to learn about satellite technology, he jumped at the chance. While his friends from high school went to university, Paul went straight into the workforce.
“It was an opportunity to be paid as I learned, and it was a telco, which is what I wanted to get into,” he says. “At that time, they were the only people who had access to satellites and earth stations in Australia. That was the whole reason I went there.”
Paul worked at a number of organisations over the next decade. This included Aussat, which later became Optus. He was involved in the installation of earth stations in all of Australia’s major cities. He also helped install the satellite dishes at TV stations across the country. Then, in 1994, Paul joined the satellite division at Optus.
Over the next 25 years, Paul climbed the ladder from Sales Engineer to Vice President of the division. He managed a team of 150 people dedicated to providing satellite services. Over that time, the division launched six geostationary satellites and digitised the broadcast of satellite television. They made it possible for School of the Air students to see their teachers for the first time, and provided the initial internet services to remote Australia. They also built the first high speed satellite link to Antarctica.
“Some of the innovative solutions we deployed were life-changing to people, particularly those in regional and remote Australia,” Paul says. “But they probably don’t realise it.”
Nurturing new talent was also a personal highlight for Paul. “Providing opportunities for people to enter the satellite and space industry and watching them develop and grow was extremely rewarding,” says Paul. “I’m proud that a number of these people now work with start-ups across the Australian space industry.”
Paul accepted a redundancy package from Optus in 2018, and in 2019 he joined Internet of Things start-up Myriota. After once managing 150 staff, Paul is now a department of one. “I’m the oldest in the company by close to ten years,” Paul says. “It’s a big change, but it’s exciting and invigorating.”
Myriota provides low-cost low-power satellite connectivity globally for the Internet of Things sensors and devices. These can be used in industries including agriculture, mining, defence, logistics and vehicle management. Their modules can be integrated with sensors that monitor water level changes in water tanks, rain gauges and even artesian bores.
The modules then send messages to the constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites when they pass overhead. Users can access the information via the cloud in close to real time. This data helps users make informed decisions that can save a great deal of time and resources.
“All I ever wanted to do was be involved with space and satellites,” says Paul. “Why would I want to work in any other industry?”
- After finishing high school in the early 1980s, Paul joined the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in their brand-new satellite division.
- He left OTC to work at Mitsubishi Electric, where he helped install all of Australia’s major city earth stations.
- In 1985 Paul joined Magnatech, which had won the contract to install satellite dishes at TV stations across Australia.
- Paul worked in a number of other satellite-related roles around Australia. He worked at Aussat and Mitec before joining Optus in 1994.
- Paul spent 25 years at Optus. During that time, he worked his way up from Sales Engineer to Vice President of the satellite division. At its largest, there were 150 people on his team.
- In 2018, Paul finished at Optus and took some time off. During that time, he also consulted for Myriota and others.
- Paul officially joined Myriota as their Director of Strategic Partnerships in 2019.
- Paul is currently a member of the Space Industry Leaders Forum, along with Myriota CEO Dr Alex Grant.