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June/July 2003
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Diversity in action

Thales Navigation offers globally positioned opportunities
The company is looking for up to fifty engineers this year. Candidates need eight years or more in electronics and communications
Tom Capizzi: locating lost children through GPS “would be monumental.”
Tom Capizzi: locating lost children through GPS “would be monumental.”

Thales, a global electronics conglomerate, bought GPS maker Magellan in 2001, merged it with other GPS companies in Europe, and called its new division Thales Navigation.

Thales Navigation is the conglomerate’s only operation headquartered in the U.S. It has set a new course, expanding its business-to-business GPS division and adding a stronger focus on consumer products. It is the only GPS company that serves both business and consumer markets.

GPS products run the gamut from embedded chips to handheld instruments, explains Tom Capizzi, VP of worldwide human resources. “On the consumer side, we develop handheld devices for recreation, boating, hiking and car navigation,” he says. “If you go into Best Buy, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart, they’re selling our equipment.”

Capizzi confides that GPS is set for a major expansion in many marketplaces: telecom, automotive, and new areas as yet untapped.

“Millions of consumers already recognize the value of car navigation systems and GPS devices they can take anywhere. Down the road, personal locator devices will not be luxuries, but things we’ll all carry,” Capizzi says.

“We will eventually see GPS chips in all cell phones. Dogs and cats are beginning to be tracked with GPS chips in collars and even injected under their skin. Being able to find your lost child would be monumental.”

Thales Navigation logs about $180 million in annual sales, Capizzi says. Some 70 percent of consumer sales are in the U.S., the rest in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Europe and Asia are expected to be the major growth markets.

On the professional side, surveying, one of the original GPS applications, is still a strong business customer. The professional side involves integration into other Thales businesses, like the Geosolutions group for offshore drilling and the Navsol joint venture, which put the GPS-based NeverLost map and guidance system in 40,000 Hertz vehicles throughout the U.S.

Capizzi says the renewed commitment to consumer markets requires a different mentality. “This used to be a very technology-driven market,” he says. “Now the sales and marketing focus has challenged our engineers to create products that consumers really want.”


Thales Navigation logo
www.thalesnavigation.com

Headquarters: Santa Clara, CA
Employees: 700 worldwide, 400 in the U.S.
Revenues: $180 million
Business: Development, some production of professional and consumer-use Global Positioning System products

Thales Navigation has two locations in California. Santa Clara, in the San Francisco Bay Area, is primarily sales and exec offices. Most Thales Navigation engineers are based in San Dimas, east of Los Angeles. The rest of the Thales Navigation folks are in Russia, France and the U.K.

Hiring at Thales Navigation focuses on electronics and communications pros with eight to ten years of experience. GPS know-how is a bonus, of course. Other valued skill sets include commercial communications technology, software, firmware, board design, ASIC and other chip design. About thirty percent of employees have masters degrees or above.

Capizzi says Thales Navigation is “cautiously hiring,” primarily at San Dimas. It may bring in thirty-five to fifty new engineers in 2003, or more, depending on business conditions.

Most employees work a standard business day, but scheduling will vary as required to interact with colleagues across many time zones. The firm offers domestic partner benefits, and extensive training through Thales University, the parent firm’s training arm.

There’s also a succession planning process, which involves career development to help move people into other opportunities, Capizzi notes.

With its global mix, there are many racial, ethnic and national groups in Thales Navigation. Overall, there’s about a 60/40 ratio of men to women. The firm has participated on a limited scale with SHPE, SWE and other organizations, and Capizzi hopes to do more.

At the 400-employee level in the U.S. there really isn’t enough critical mass for networks, but he will welcome their eventual development.

D/C