Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at STAR Harbor Academy
Maraia Tanner has served as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Space Development Ventures Corp., dba STAR Harbor Space Training Academy, since its inception in 2013. She brings to this enterprise an academic background in astrophysics and ten years’ aerospace industry experience as a systems engineer.
Why We Nominated Her:
The Social Capital characteristic we honored PROTEUS CEO Lisa Marrocchino for was knowledge, and knowledge is key in her nomination of Maraia Tanner, CEO of STAR HARBOR. “Firstly, she is a great leader and mentor and a woman CEO.” Taking the opportunity to acknowledge Maraia’s support and help in furthering PROTEUS’s efforts, Lisa notes Maraia’s vision for STAR HARBOR Academy and Campus includes STEM education, cohesion and leadership training for groups and corporations.
I believe happy customers will only be the result of having built a happy team,” Maraia says. “To me, that means recognizing that employees are first people -- with lives, hopes, dreams, bucket lists, family.” Instead of viewing team members as replaceable assets from which to extract the most for the least possible expense, Maraia has been intentional in setting policies and creating context in which Star Harbor can be a means to accomplish their own life goals, whether that be professional or personal. “As a start-up with a limited working budget, this means we’ve had to think beyond the paycheck to what are the things we, as individuals, really want and need out of life? And how can STAR HARBOR help make it happen?”
Her philosophy about creating that kind of corporate culture lies in the comparison she shares of two companies she worked for while in college:
Company A treated its employees as though it was doing the employees a favor by providing them a job, required associates to wear current apparel but provided only a 10% discount -- so much of each paycheck went to purchasing their clothes — and was terrible about granting time off for family or life events. Management was constantly grumpy and gave only enough hours to ensure there were no benefit requirements. The result was Company A’s employees found ways in which to even the scales at every opportunity -- whether that was labeling perfectly good clothes as defective, adjusting their timecards, disappearing without notice when they had had enough or simply treating the customers as they themselves were being treated: not well.
Company B, on the other hand, provided great training; all levels of management started in the same entry level position and so knew and appreciated the work that went into each role within the store; treated the employees with respect; gave quarterly reviews -- with pay raises for doing even just an adequate job -- fostered a sense of community, made benefits available regardless of the number of hours worked. These employees were happy to come to work, routinely went above and beyond basic job descriptions, volunteered for difficult-to-cover shifts, had pride in working there and treated the customers exceedingly well.
Fast forward to today. Company A’s retail stores are out of business in the U.S. and Company B has more than 550 stores across the U.S. -- up from 59 when Maraia worked there in the early ’90s. “These experiences and the results these companies generated provided a stark contrast that has colored the way I think about business and, in particular, employees,” Maraia shares.
“At the end of the day, I believe we all have at least two things in common,” Maraia says. “We want to enjoy the life we’ve been given and feel that our time on Earth mattered.” It’s the combination of STAR HARBOR’s mission -- to leverage the excitement, inspiration and innovative capacity of space to make a profoundly positive impact on our home planet — combined with the commitment throughout the academy to take care of its employees and operate with integrity in the process that Maraia believes has enabled the enterprise to bring together “some of the most remarkable people the planet has to offer.
“I am incredibly proud of and grateful to my team every day for the hard work, support and enthusiasm they bring to the company, our partners and each other,” Maraia says. “Ad astra!”
Tenure at Current Position
|STAR Harbor Academy||Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer||Consultant with UAE Space Agency in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|University of California at Irvine, Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics|