Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazer: Jamie Wallace

  • Name: Jamie Wallace

    Role: Customer Success Manager at Esri Ireland

    What are you currently working on?

    My role of Customer Success Manager at Esri Ireland is multifaceted and ranges from project delivery and team leadership, supporting organisations in better understanding the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the benefits it can offer, and helping our customers to maximise their existing investment in GIS technology and the people within their organisations.

    I currently work across a number of industry sectors including central and local government, primarily within the environment & agriculture, infrastructure and transport domains.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    Esri Ireland is a local distributor for Esri Inc. who are based in Redlands, California. Esri are the world leaders in the field of GIS, and their ArcGIS software product suite has long been an industry standard.

    Having worked with ArcGIS software extensively over the years, I felt privileged to have an opportunity to become part of the Esri Ireland team, and the wider Esri global network of companies that had played such an influential role in shaping my career.

    Prior to moving to Esri Ireland, I was already well aware of their reputation for strong customer focus and culture of supporting employees with their career development. For six consecutive years, Esri Ireland has ranked highly in the Great Place to Work awards, coming in as the best small workplace on two occasions – a well-deserved recognition and testament to the company, its culture and its employees.

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    My career in the GIS industry has played out fairly organically.

    Building on an enthusiasm for Geography during my school years, I studied for a BSc in Topographic Science at the University of Glasgow, and whilst this degree primarily focused on land, marine and aerial survey principles, it was a specific module on GIS which sparked my interest.

    During the summer of 2002, I was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the US National Park Service at the Grand Canyon National Park on a GIS internship. This experience alone was enough to establish my passion for the industry that I work in, providing first-hand exposure to the ways GIS could support wildfire management, conservation and biodiversity, law enforcement, and National Park administration.

    Soon after, I completed an MSc in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Leeds, leading to professional roles within multidisciplinary and IT consultancies based in Manchester, London, Sydney, and now Holywood, Co. Down - which is a little closer to home.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    If I were to summarise my favourite aspects of my work in three areas they would be the variety, the challenge, and the opportunity.

    Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work on a variety of projects for customers in the areas of Oil & Gas, Renewable Energy, Infrastructure & Transportation, Emergency Services, Environment, Central & Local Government, Education & Health, and Not-for-Profit. My work has also enabled me to travel outside of the UK & Ireland, including the GIS internship at the Grand Canyon, solution deployments in Italy, training humanitarian emergency response teams in Sweden, facilitating workshops in Florida and Kenya, project management in India, and various GIS roles in Australia.

    No two career paths are the same in any sector, and GIS is no different for those seeking a challenge. Depending on your interests, or the projects and initiatives that you find yourself assigned to, there are no limits to the disciplines that can be learned and applied. GIS can sometimes be misunderstood as simply “maps and layers of data”, however beneath this often lies enterprise IT infrastructure, software deployments and systems integrations. Within projects, expertise is commonly sought within the areas of business analysis, project management, systems architecture, software development, database administration, testing, support and training. And from an operational / user perspective, spatial data management, analysis and visualisation are incredibly valuable skills to possess.

    As is the case for the wider technology sector, the field of GIS continues to evolve rapidly, and with this comes opportunity. As increasing numbers of organisations benefit from better use of their spatially referenced data, supported through the use of GIS software, we are witnessing an industry that is growing exponentially. As a result, more roles and opportunities are being created for graduates and experienced professionals alike – so this is an exciting time for those looking to get involved or progress their careers in GIS.

    How do you see this technology impacting our lives?

    Whilst the term “GIS” will not be familiar to everyone, GIS and Location Based Services (LBS) are everywhere, and impact almost all of our lives on a daily basis. For example, when was the last time you had to rummage through the glove compartment to find that A-Z Street Gazetteer? Or look up your local newspaper classifieds to find an event or item to purchase near you? Instead we now have access to apps that can guide on the best route to a destination under current traffic conditions, or at the click of a button allow us to search for items for sale within a specified radius our location.

    In terms of public services, we can use our smartphones to report the location of an environmental incident, book a taxi, or find out when our next bus will arrive - these are just a few common examples of when “location” and GIS play a vital role, answering the question of “where am I?” in relation to “where is it?”

    Looking to the future, we are already seeing Augmented Reality become a “reality” for understanding features of interest around us, which is great for a tourist exploring a new area, but is also incredibly valuable to an organisation’s field staff in understanding the condition or maintenance history of a nearby asset.

    We will also continue to see advancements in many other related areas including remotely sensed data capture from mobile devices, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and real-time data visualisation and analytics. In the world of GIS, the sky literally has no limits in terms of what will be possible.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    With the advent of smartphones, the use of digital maps and location-based technology grew rapidly to become commonplace within the consumer market over the past decade.

    The commercial and government sectors are no exception. We have seen a switch from desktop GIS and local data storage/processing to widespread adoption of a mobile and web-first approach which, aligned with scalable cloud hosting architectures, enables data to be captured, stored, processed, analysed, visualised and shared in much greater volumes, more efficiently and effectively.

    The rate of these developments is not about to plateau, however, and we will continue to observe rapid progression of capabilities within the area of GIS and its supporting technology.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    It is difficult not to refer to a certain pocket-sized gadget that allows me to speak with others; send emails and messages; connect with old friends and new; follow my interests; keep up to date with the news; do my banking; organise my diary; capture, edit and share photos and video; and of course, find my location on a map!

    I suppose it cannot make the coffee, yet.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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