I was born/grew up in: I was born in Hanna, AB but raised in Calgary, AB
I now live in: near Enilda and High Prairie, AB
What I do at work
I am a self employed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist. At this time, I am doing GIS consulting work. I provide maps/map books and GIS services for oil companies through a contract with another company. I use my GIS software skill set every day. My specialized equipment would include my desktop PC, my external hard drives, and my experience with Microsoft 365. This includes using Excel, Word, SharePoint and other add-on software.
My 28 years of experience doing GIS allows me to solve problems, make decisions, prioritize projects/workload and be part of a dynamic team. The problem solving I am involved with now is trying to develop better ways for clients to get the GIS/mapping that they want and need. This will help them be self sufficient. I have also developed some applications for the general public around COVID19. All of the staff/consultants I work with are working remotely and from around the province. English is my only language but there is a lot of translation required to determine what the clients are looking for and how best to meet their needs.
My career path is
When I was in high school I was looking at a career in biology. I ended up in forestry because it's what I could afford to do. I took the Forest Technology Program at NAIT, graduating in 1985ish. I worked in a fire lookout northwest of Ft. McMurray as well as other non traditional positions the first few years after graduation.
I started mapping in 1989 and started using GIS in 1992. In 2008 I started working towards my Applied Bachelor's Degree in GIS from SAIT. I finished it in 3 years and 8 months with a 3.94 GPA. This included being down for 7 months after having surgery! This made me very proud and I realized that adult students have a lot more focus than students do fresh from high school. My biggest challenge was being terminated by a previous employer with "no cause". I overcame it by working for myself. I started my own business a few weeks after the termination. This gave me control over my life as it allowed me to stay where I was living.
I am motivated by
I get excited when I introduce GIS to someone that has never used it or understands how it works. I like to plant ideas on how GIS can be used and then stand back and wait for them to see the possibilities in their work. The part of my career that is most interesting is the network of people I know across the province. I can go to almost any corner of the province and know someone there. This comes from my forestry career as well as my GIS career.
I enjoy doing Emergency Management work because it helps the general public the most. It also helps whichever agency I am working with to help the general public. GIS/mapping allows me to create new data and generate new products. Sometimes these are things that no one else has seen before. It's the niche that I found back in 1989. Before GIS, we used India Ink pens and pencil crayons to create thematic maps.
How I affect people’s lives
I love being busy! I find that my mind works better and faster when it is busy working on something. This is kind of a "use it or lose it" philosophy. I have been working in various roles since I was 12 years old. As a result, for 40+ years I have always had something to do. While I look forward to retirement and having the ability to spend more time on hobbies, I enjoy being in the work force and feeling like I am doing important work. The projects I am currently working on help other companies show the work that they do.
Outside of work I
I like to garden, cook and spend time with my family (partner and dog), and go for walks. I also am involved as a vendor of a farmer's market so I am always making something for that. We do a Christmas Dinner for homeless/lonely people. I am building my own recipe book from recipes I have gathered my whole life, including some old family favorites.
My advice to others
Don't decide to take a career for the money. Do it because you love the work! Use every opportunity you are presented with to learn.