How Viasat got a top spot on Hired’s top San Diego employers’ list

A combination of culture, challenge and opportunity helped put Viasat on the No. 3 spot of the annual survey of preferred tech employers


Viasat Senior Creative Strategist Azfar Najmi has spent his career at Viasat; it’s proven a perfect match for his diverse skills. Najmi started with Viasat as an engineer, and 13 years ago segued into the marketing department.

“There aren’t a lot of companies that encourage you to pursue your passion – even if it’s in a brand-new direction – and I’m very thankful to Viasat for that,” he said.

Stories like that are among the reasons Viasat was named among Hired’s 2019 top San Diego employers in its third annual Brand Health Report.

Hired’s annual survey ranks the top 15 public and private employer brands overall, as well as the top 10 by city. It asks local tech workers to tell them which companies they’d like to work for most. Hired is a San Francisco-based private company that matches tech talent with jobs.

In San Diego, Viasat was ranked third — up from No. 5 last year.

What makes Viasat such an appealing place to work?

“First and foremost, it’s the work. From residential, to community Wi-Fi, to government systems, to commercial air, we’re unlocking opportunities in the most challenging environments around the world, by connecting the unconnected,” said Melinda Kimbro, Viasat’s Chief People Officer. “For our employees there’s immense appeal and pride in getting to contribute to something as impactful as this.”

Company culture is a big part of it, too, she said.

“There are other companies that are doing exciting things for the world, but few with the culture and workplace we’ve created.”

That gives Viasat an edge in today’s hyper-competitive environment.

“The fact is there are more opportunities than candidates in the market and many have come to realize that culture really matters,” Kimbro said. “Life is too short to work someplace that isn’t a great fit. We aren’t a fit for everyone, but for those who want to be a part of an exceptionally talented team, take on big challenges, and want to operate with less structure and more freedom, we truly are a rare find. Our culture is at the heart of how we’ve been able to accomplish so much for so long and continue to evolve what we’re bringing to market.”

Back to Viasat

With this in mind, it’s interesting to talk to Viasat employees who’ve experienced other work cultures. Among the workforce at the company’s Carlsbad, CA headquarters are a handful of people who left Viasat and later returned.

Senior Software Engineer Paul Getz started working at Viasat in January 1992, when the company was only six years old.

“Back then there were about 40 employees,” he said. “I met a lot of good friends I still have today and who still work here – some as directors of business units.”

In 1999, Getz decided he wanted a change of pace and went to work in the mobile wireless sector. Fifteen years later, he returned to Viasat.

“I just had my fifth anniversary and I’m happy as a clam,” Getz said. “My time away was a good learning experience, but I always felt a good kinship with Viasat, and I respect the leadership here. It made sense for me to come back.”

Part of the appeal of Viasat for Getz is variety.

“One thing that stuck out in my mind then and that I appreciate even more now is the variety of technical problems involved in just this one job I have. There are all kinds of unique and interesting problems associated with satcom (satellite communications). It offers a wide selection of things to work on.”

Gary Echo, who works in business development for Viasat’s commercial air division, worked nearly a decade at Viasat starting in 1989. He returned in 2013 after service from the ViaSat-1 satellite launched.

“Viasat had proven the value of ViaSat-1 and was raising the bar again,” he said. “I was intrigued by the diversity of existing and potential markets that would be enabled.

Echo started working in Government Systems and helped build Viasat’s VIPSAM (Very Important Person Special Air Mission) customer base, then moved to Commercial Mobility.

“I am not at all unique in that regard,” Echo said. “I think Viasat is tops in the breadth of opportunities it offers employees and its open support for movement within the company. If that weren’t enough, there is encouragement to create new opportunities if one gets an interesting idea.”

Kimbro said Viasat is intent on enhancing its appeal still higher.

“We’re always looking at the things we can continue to do to make the experience we offer employees even better,” Kimbro said. “We want the value proposition we offer our employees to be so compelling that there’s no way the grass could possibly be greener.”