At Viasat Denver, Suzanne Marchi prioritizes people and technology
Whether it’s Viasat’s technical operations, her home gardens or her coworkers, Suzanne Marchi has a gift for helping things and people flourish.
“I’m motivated by learning, new experiences, developing people and helping others,” said Marchi, who thrives on change. “I like being challenged and productive. As my husband says, ‘You’re never happy unless your hair is on fire’.”
As Viasat’s Director of Technical Operations & Service Quality, Marchi oversees a team of 15. Their responsibilities range from network capacity planning and managing the impacts of service changes to training and business analysis, and much more. Marchi hired and built the Splunk team, which now provides data analytics to not only Technical Operations, but many departments. It gives significant insight into Viasat’s customer networks, including commercial aviation and brings together many data sets to bring insights to help us run the business
She also launched Viasat’s Women in Tech employee resource group in Denver in 2013, and more recently, another group called Families Helping Families that is now forming at other Viasat campuses.
In all those endeavors, Marchi works to help processes and people thrive – whether it’s via technical changes to streamline procedures or the very personal actions involved in supporting co-workers.
With both Women in Tech and Families Helping Families, Marchi saw a need and took action to to fill it.
“I realized one day that I was in a room of 20 people and I was the only woman, and that was more common than not,’ she said. “I realized we could benefit as a company to have greater representation, not just with women but other aspects of diversity as well. So I decided to do something about it.
“I wrote to the mangers – all of whom were men – and said I’d like to get this handful of women together, start meeting and build a community. To their credit, every one of those men said, ‘Great’.”
Women in Tech was an immediate success, and has grown year after year – with seven chapters globally. Women in Tech is one of nine Viasat employee resource groups that support the company’s broader diversity & inclusion goals.
About a year ago, she saw a similar opportunity – this time with young families. Her concern was particularly for the careers of employees having their first child.
“Starting a family is a special time in our life that gives us pause to think about what’s important, including how we feel about our job and work environment,” Marchi said. “Even if we love what we do, if we are not connected and feel supported, other priorities will lead us to consider leaving our job. We want to make sure this is not the case for our valuable employees.”
From those observations, the Families Helping Families group was born. Carlsbad will soon launch its own chapter of the group.
Jumping into tech
Marchi, married with two adult daughters, made the choices that defined her career path in similar fashion. She was working as a Denver YMCA trainer in the early 1990s when she decided to make a big change. Marchi was passionate about training – she helped found the YMCA’s & Arthritis Foundation Arthritis Aquatic program as well as a baby/parent exercise classes – but also recognized technology as the future.
“The world was changing, and massively changing,” March said. “I thought it was exciting. I wanted to learn it; I wanted to know it.
“So I went to my girls’ grade school and said, ‘How about if I offer free computer classes?’ Then I dug deep into Microsoft Word, Excel and Power Point.”
Marchi went back to school to take programming and computer information classes. Eventually, she was asked to set up and manage the computer network at a private preK-8 school in Denver.
“I wrote and delivered the curriculum, and chose the software,” she said. “I could have stayed there forever. But at some point, I thought I ought to step out into the new and exciting technical field.”
And so she did, working her way up at a Colorado-based energy information company from network administrator to global technical director. While there, she returned to school to earn her master’s degree in IT management. In 2007, she joined WildBlue, which Viasat acquired in 2009.
“You have to have that change mindset; change is necessary and good,” she said. “ViaSat-3 will be a big step forward. I worked (on our expansions) in Brazil and Australia, helping get their teams going, and I hope to do that even more as we grow.”
Meanwhile, she’ll keep watching for ways to help the people around her.
“My favorite thing is helping people develop,” she said. “I really like to make sure we connect people with the upcoming opportunities. My hope is that people know they’re not just clocking in and clocking out, but that they’re making a difference.”