Our Team

Our team consists of naval architects and marine engineers who all share a love for their area of expertise.  All of our employees are active members of professional societies and Steller Systems’ Managing Director is a Fellow of Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) and the Institution of Marine Engineers, Scientists and Technologists (IMarEST). Key members of the team are listed below.

Robert Skarda MSc CEng FRINA FIMarEST RCNC, Managing Director

Robert has been working on complex systems within the defence industry since 1996 when he joined the UK Ministry of Defence as a naval architect.  After completing his MSc in Warship Naval Architecture and Submarine design from University College London, he spent time training at sea with the Royal Navy on HMS Boxer (a Type 22 frigate) during Operation Desert Fox in the Gulf and HMS Splendid (a Nuclear Attack Submarine) in the Atlantic.  Robert is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (FRINA) and the Institute of Marine Engineers, Scientists and Technologists (FIMarEST), a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors (RCNC).  Robert is a highly experienced naval architect and systems engineer and has in-depth knowledge of ship systems integration, integration analysis, systems testing and acceptance management.

Samantha Skarda, Director

Samantha has over 20 years’ experience in management, communications, recruitment, management training and leadership development.  She has a strong background in engineering and management, and facilitates open dialogue within the team.  Sam supports staff in their development, encourages innovation and facilitates open communication within the team and the upholding of family values within the company.  Responsible for company strategy, financial planning, team leadership, recruitment management, events management, office management and envisioning the future path for the company.  Sam is at the heart of our successful business, and uses her intuitive understanding of people to help create an environment in which exceptional individuals can thrive.

Kit Harris MEng AMRINA, Head of Uncrewed & Underwater Systems

Kit worked as a naval architect in the MOD for 11 years before joining Steller Systems in March 2019. While in the MOD Kit worked on submarine projects covering all lifecycle stages, including the Dreadnought programme, the Naval Authority Group and In-Service submarines. Through these Kit has gained experience in the specification and design of a new submarine project, the safety assurance environment, and the in-service environment. Since joining Steller Systems Kit has acted as chief engineer for a steering and diving control system for a foreign submarine project, developed the concept of operations for numerous and varied platforms and investigated the use of gas generators during submarine flood recovery. Kit is an advanced user of a number of software packages, including Paramarine and Artemis, the MOD’s software used to create Safe Operating Envelopes for submarines, which he led the development of for several years.

Ian Hazel CEng FIMarEST, Head of Surface Ships

Ian is a Marine Engineer with over 35 years’ experience in the Naval engineering sector, primarily within the support arena. His Naval career saw him employed at sea in Aircraft Carriers with shore postings in various maintenance and repair organisations. During the last 9 years of his career, he was heavily involved in the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carrier build programme both at Navy Command Headquarters and as a member of the Ships Company. Upon leaving the RN he joined L3 Harris as the support lead for the QEC Integrated Platform Management System before moving to Babcock in 2018. For the last 5 years he has actively supported both QEC and T45 destroyers, initially managing a multi-disciplinary team of 25 to manage shortfalls in design and restore equipment and systems to design intent,  and more latterly accountable as the Equipment and System technical authority for all Power and Propulsion in both QEC and T45. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of IMarEST and RINA.  

Stephen Pedder MPhys MInstP, Business Development Manager

After graduating from the University of Warwick with a first class Masters degree in Mathematics and Physics, Stephen joined the UK Ministry of Defence as a Research Scientist in the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl).  Starting in the Missile Countermeasures Department, before moving to the Land Systems Department, Stephen set up and managed technology research projects, including identifying and assessing innovative technologies, running Technology Seminar Wargames and running large-scale trials.  Stephen took part in International Research Collaboration, presenting Dstl’s research in Canada and Australia, observing foreign trials, and acting as Rapporteur on a NATO Industrial Advisory Group.  Stephen then joined Sula Systems, a Systems Engineering SME which became part of global engineering firm Jacobs.  Stephen’s projects included researching, analysing and managing the interfaces between systems, analysing system and technology maturity levels, and developing technology and capability roadmaps, as well as a long-term placement in MBDA. Stephen’s passion for developing solutions to varied problems led him into a placement within the Business Development Team, which quickly became permanent.  Stephen joined Steller Systems in 2012, where he works with the interdisciplinary team to develop solutions to customers’ problems.  As the longest serving employee Stephen also manages a number of areas of the company’s operations, including its ISO9001 Quality Management System.

Hugh Maclean MEng, Principal Engineering/Projects Manager

Hugh is a Naval Architect whose experience ranges from large defence projects (for BMT Defence Services’ Hydrodynamics Team) to high-speed tank testing of small interceptor or windfarm support vessels (at Seaspeed Marine Consulting) and taking a first prototype design through to production for long-endurance uncrewed surface vessels (at Autonaut). Hugh has experience working in defence, marine research, offshore renewables and oil and gas – whether it is concept design and feasibility studies, unique data analysis to understand performance parameters of new technologies or managing a small specialist engineering and production team producing new customer vessels. He has a masters in Ship Science from Southampton University and has since worked as a specialist naval architect and managing a multidiscipline engineering team.