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10 19 2020

Meet Huub Simons, former Principal Scientist, Networks Services and IT Infrastructure

During his 34 years of service to NATO, Huub Simons built a very strong reputation as one of NATO's leading experts in satellite communications (SATCOM). Simons retired at the end of August 2020 following his successful career at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency.

Simons's character and his expertise in satellite communications were fundamental in the development of major documents over the last ten years at the NCI Agency.

With Simons's extremely valuable support, the NCI Agency completed a Memorandum of Understanding between France, Italy, United Kingdom and United States for the provision of critical satellite communications services to NATO for the next 15 years.

The NATO Secretary General awarded Huub in July 2020 with the NATO's most prestigious honour – Meritorious Service Medal.

On this special occasion, we asked him a few questions.

Meet Huub Simons, Principal Scientist, Networks Services and IT Infrastructure

Can you walk us briefly through your career with NATO?

I started my career as a Junior Scientist at the SHAPE Technical Centre (STC) back in 1986. Since then, I was able to work on a few different generations of NATO satellites. One of my first assignments was to test and provide operational support for the third generation of NATO III satellites, which I supported until its end of life. After this, I was a part of a team that was responsible for the technical coordination in the procurement of NATO IV satellites, with operational support and acquisition provided by other NATO bodies. Once the NATO Consultation Control and Command Agency (NC3A) was created in 1996, I supported the acquisition of the next generation of NATO SATCOM Post-2000 satellite communications services. The new work processes under the new Agency made it easier to work as one single internal team, to coordinate this complex project and complete it on time for SATCOM services to start in 2005. In 2012, the NC3A further merged with the NATO CIS Support Agency to become the current NCI Agency. I was with the NCI Agency since its inception, when I was assigned as SATCOM Technical Lead to the Agency's Network Services and IT Infrastructure Service Line. At the NCI Agency, I worked on the definition and acquisition of the sixth generation of SATCOM services for NATO that became operational in January 2020 and will serve NATO for the next 15 years.

What has been a constant for you in all these years of working at NATO?

The single red line throughout all these years has been that the technical SATCOM team has been involved in all stages of project planning, acquisition and operations, while other parts of the organization are usually only focused on one of these stages. The preparation and use of the excellent SATCOM facilities that I could contribute to during all Agency periods was instrumental in creating the knowledge base to acquire and operate the SATCOM space and ground segments for NATO. Maintaining a strong technical foundation through experimentation in a laboratory environment is key to the success of NATO's SATCOM in the future.

What advice would you give to someone who just started at NATO?

The NCI Agency is a place with plenty of opportunities. Opportunities to learn new capabilities, increase your knowledge, enhance your skills and expand your horizons by working with others across the organization. Such opportunities do not always come automatically, but can be created by keeping an open mind and an interest in the work that is done at the Agency. It is the combined knowledge of all the skills I've gathered over the 34 years in NATO that made me the person I am today. I thank the Agency and all colleagues that I worked with for their support, as alone we are weak but together we are strong.