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A photo of Malachi Nordine, CEO of Skytrac Systems Ltd.

SKYTRAC #Leadership Series: Celebrating SKYTRAC President Malachi Nordine’s 15-Years Length of Service Milestone

For our first article in the leadership series, we sat down with Malachi Nordine, SKYTRAC’s President. We share his reflections on SKYTRAC, his journey over his 15-year tenure, and how he sees the company evolving.

Nordine’s Journey to SKYTRAC

Although now celebrating his 15 years with SKYTRAC, when Nordine first joined SKYTRAC, he already had more than 15 years of aerospace experience under his belt. His career began when he served as an Aerospace Engineering Officer in the Canadian Forces while completing his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Physics at the Royal Roads Military College. He followed this up with Aerospace Engineering training at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Engineering, cementing the foundation for his aerospace career.

Before joining SKYTRAC, Nordine worked as a Technical Manager at Honeywell Aerospace, where he managed the development of mission-critical Level A avionics software. Nordine was living in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was pursuing a master’s degree in Engineering Systems from Arizona State University while also raising a young family with his wife. At this time, Nordine took the leap to join a nascent satellite tracking technology company out of the Okanagan – SKYTRAC.

I joined SKYTRAC because it gave my family and young kids the chance to connect with their grandparents who live in the Okanagan. The role at SKYTRAC allowed me to remain connected to aerospace while also giving my family what they needed at the moment.

In 2007, Nordine joined SKYTRAC, with his first role beginning in Service Delivery. As this was a big move and Nordine was still uncertain how it would work out, he kept their house in Phoenix, unaware that his experience at SKYTRAC may keep him around longer than anticipated.

Growing with SKYTRAC

Nordine recollects that within his first 90 days at SKYTRAC, he was sent to the United Kingdom to help with onsite troubleshooting. Although jarring and requiring rapid learning, Nordine shares that it was a refreshing break from the bureaucracy of an individual contributor role at the larger firms he had worked at.

Soon after joining SKYTRAC, I was gaining all kinds of experience, whether onsite troubleshooting, attending major industry tradeshows, or accessing visibility with customers. The exposure and experience I gained in 1 year would be equivalent to 10 years elsewhere. That and the sense that what I did matters to the organization kept me around longer than I thought.

Fifteen years later, that sentiment continues to be echoed by SKYTRAC’s staff, such as Luka Djurasovic, SKYTRAC’s Network Administrator, who recently shared that he has gained 20 years of experience in his two short years at SKYTRAC.

In Nordine’s initial years with the company, he pivoted to various roles as the business needs were evolving. He worked in client services, managed the quality department, led engineering teams, and served as the head of SKYTRAC’s Design Approval Organization. Nordine’s ability and willingness to fill various roles quickly made him invaluable to the company. Coming to his presidency having occupied positions that many others now perform gives Nordine rare insight, appreciation, and empathy for the team.

Nordine’s next curveball came at an Iridium conference in Hawaii nearly ten years ago with Kathleen Wallace, SKYTRAC’s owner at the time. Here, Wallace shared with Nordine that she was looking to sell the business and even had a few keen suitors.

On the one hand, SKYTRAC was about to be sold, and everything could change. On the other hand, after years of renting, my wife and I were finally ready to settle down, buy a home, and permanently put down roots in Kelowna. To say that my personal and professional life were at odds with one another was an understatement.

Launched into Leadership

Stemming from this uncertainty, Nordine took the reigns and facilitated the purchase of the company along with some partners. In 2012, after nearly a decade of successful business centered around satellite flight following and communication, SKYTRAC was sold to Roynat Equity Partners (Roynat), and with that, Nordine was appointed President.

The sale to Roynat pivoted SKYTRAC from a hardware-only revenue stream to incorporate a recurring services model. This pivot made our business resilient, and it is why we were able to keep growing and not have to let go of anyone during the COVID-19 pandemic while the aviation industry was grounded.

The team’s expertise at Roynat brought the business a much-needed layer of sophistication. SKYTRAC’s identity emerged during this time, and our fundamental values of focus, passion, innovation, and discipline were articulated.

At SKYTRAC, we are focused on our strategy, passionate about meeting customer needs, without whom we wouldn't be here, disciplined to improve our efficiency, and innovative in how we meet industry needs. Most customers don't know exactly what they need, so we bring in that expertise to help them decide, and then we innovate a solution. Those are the values that our team embodies.

By now, SKYTRAC was a full-service data-driven solutions provider to the global aviation industry and ripe for the next acquisition. In 2017, after evaluating several offers, Nordine accepted ACR Group’s proposal to acquire SKYTRAC. Retaining autonomy as an independent subsidiary, SKYTRAC joined ACR Group’s portfolio of companies that today has 13 brands with over 500 employees.

Looking Ahead

Nordine notes that SKYTRAC has come a long way. Since the acquisition, SKYTRAC has tripled its offices, adding satellite offices in Victoria, British Columbia, and Ottawa, Ontario. The latest expansion in Ottawa supports the demanding technical expertise and resources needed to develop SKYTRAC’s Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT) solution – a critical project born out of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 2023 GADSS mandate to address the issue of missing aircraft.

Since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Air France Flight 447, the industry is perplexed how a commercial airliner can go missing. Our agility allowed us to innovate a solution that tackles one of aviation's biggest challenges today. When I joined SKYTRAC in 2007, I didn't imagine the company would take this trajectory. I am proud of what our team has accomplished.

And yet, there is further to go. With innovation as a cornerstone, SKYTRAC is always evolving to deliver more value to the industry. With that, there’s always something to learn. 

I am still learning and facing unique challenges today, much like being thrown into onsite troubleshooting within my first 90 days or being appointed the DAO head in my early days at SKYTRAC. Even 15 years in, I am still growing my skills. At SKYTRAC, there's a real opportunity to grow for those looking for it.

In time, Nordine’s vision for the company is for it to no longer be reliant on him or his ideas but rather develop the business and find the right talent so that it is the sum of these systems, processes, and people that will hold SKYTRAC together.

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