Shaun D’Mello

Class of 2009
Vice President of Launch, Rocket Lab

Inspired to lead by his teachers at John Paul College, Shaun D’Mello excelled both within his education and his career to become the Vice President of Launch at Rocket Lab.

Shaun’s plethora of responsibilities include enabling and delivering Rocket Lab’s global launch capability, as he directs the end-to-end execution of launch operations in New Zealand and the United States of America. He also oversees the development and operation of launch sites, safety assurance and licensing to ensure frequent, reliable and successful launches.

He nods to the great example that was set at JPC by his teachers, and their strong leadership that led to effective and engaging education for all the people they encountered, and inspired his desire for leadership within his career.

Shaun began at Rocket Lab in 2014 as a launch engineer and has also held the roles of in-flight safety and management. He started at Rocket Lab when the organisation consisted of just 16 employees. He admits that seeing the rapid growth of the privately funded company has been exciting as it has enabled him to define his career path.

‘In my time thus far, I’ve held roles where I have been able to work with equations and tools through to building the world’s first private orbital launch complex, to executing launch countdown operations and building a department that’s nearly 60 strong.’

It is the motivation to make a significant difference in the world through infrastructure in space which has driven Shaun in his career. Through his position at Rocket Lab, Shaun’s motivations are realised as he has overseen the development of the world’s first private orbital launch range, Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, and has overseen his team as they have successfully launched 35 satellites in orbit to date.

Despite multiple successful launches since Rocket Lab’s inception, it was the first test flight of the electron rocket that remains the most memorable moment during his career.

‘It took sheer grit, determination and a lot of hard work to design, build, test and safely launch a rocket to lower earth orbit’ he reminisces. ‘The translation of years of effort resulting in just several minutes of our first test flight was a notable experience, to say the least.’

Shaun’s hard work and dedication have paid off as he experiences the diversity of his role at Rocket Lab, where he is able to serve in both a leadership and technical capacity. It is his leadership capabilities fostered at JPC that drove Shaun through his education, achieving a First-class Honours degree in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Sydney. He is currently a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

It is Shaun’s passion and dedication which continues to contribute to aerospace advancement on a global scale. Despite moving to New Zealand he still enjoys seeing his old classmates and family, especially his brother, Aaron D’Mello (Year Eight) when in Brisbane, with his time at JPC made memorable by the people surrounding him.

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