Johnny Butu

Johnny Butu

German, Head of Planning and Project Control, Earth Observation, based at ESTEC

Although I was born in Romania I moved to Germany when I was 16 and my first degree is in engineering from the Technical University of Karlsruhe. On finishing university I worked for Siemens in Germany, first as an engineer in computer control systems and then more in project management. It was this experience that convinced me that I preferred working in project management more than as an engineer.

From Siemens I decided to apply to ESA and I started at ESTEC as a Project Controller in Human Spaceflight. As I became more and more involved in management I decided that I needed to increase my knowledge of business management, so I began studying for an MBA from the Open University, UK, which I completed in 1993. Whilst I was studying I moved over to Earth observation and became part of the unit management support team, then after a year I became Project Controller for EOPP (Earth observation Preparatory Programme).

In 1999 I moved to the Future Programmes Department and began my present post as Head of the Planning and Project Control Office. This means I am concerned with managing and coordinating financial aspects of projects in ESA’s Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP). It is my responsibility to manage, within EOEP, projects relating to future Earth observation missions, to manage the financial aspects of these programmes and to ensure that funds are available where they are needed.

I like the international environment that you find at ESA, the team I’m working with and interfacing with different areas in the agency, including finance, contracts, technical support and the industrial policy team. When I first started working my job was 50% technical and 50% financial, gradually I have moved over more to the financial side so that now my job is 90% financial and 10% technical.

My advice to anyone wanting to work at ESA is to try and ascertain what you really enjoy most, whether you want a technical career or a business career. However, whatever you decide, a good technical background will certainly prove extremely useful.

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