Virgin Orbit has appointed Stephen Zhang as its first vice president of investor relations, heading up the IR efforts at the satellite launch company that has been public for only half a year.
The firm, not to be confused with space tourism firm Virgin Galactic, was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017 to send small satellites into orbit. It began trading on Nasdaq after going public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) on December 30, 2021. The company’s diverse clients include NASA, various national security deals and a plan to launch the first Welsh satellite this summer as part of a broader joint UK-US mission to open the UK’s first domestic space port.
‘We’re incredibly pleased to have Stephen on our team,’ says Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, in a statement welcoming Zhang to the California-headquartered firm. ‘He brings a wealth of experience dealing with investors, with a specific focus on the aerospace and defense sectors.
‘It’s crucial that we have him on our team to help establish and grow meaningful relationships with stakeholders at this exciting stage in the company. [Stephen] is an effective communicator who does a great job of telling our story and he’s integral for where we’re heading in the future.’
Before coming to Virgin Orbit, Zhang – a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst – was director of IR at Raytheon Technologies, where, according to the Virgin Orbit statement, ‘he helped guide the company through several transformational corporate initiatives and a merger of equals with Raytheon Company to form Raytheon Technologies’, as well as supporting top management in IR and shareholder engagement.
Having started his career at United Technologies, Zhang has also been involved – across different companies throughout his career – in diversity and inclusion initiatives and committees. He served as a volunteer lead contact on the inclusion committee for United Technologies and later held similar volunteer positions on both Pratt and Whitney’s diversity and inclusion group and United Way’s outreach group.
‘I’m excited to be a part of the next phase of Virgin Orbit’s evolution,’ says Zhang. ‘As a newly public company, it is imperative for us to communicate our story in an effective, credible and consistent manner to the investor community. Our story is quite powerful – opening space for good – at any time, any place and to any orbit.
‘The differentiated technology, along with the innovative team that makes up Virgin Orbit, is what attracted me to the company and its vision. I’m thrilled to be a part of the journey and look forward to unlocking our full potential as we grow the business.’