I was born/grew up in: Antigonish, Nova Scotia
I now live in: Vancouver, British Columbia
I completed my training/education at: I attended Nova Scotia College of Geographic Sciences where I studied Digital Mapping, Cartology and GIS. I also have an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
What I do at work
My main role at Teck Resources Ltd is to consult on projects that involve spatial data (e.g., the location, size and shape of objects or features such as a body of water, a building, a road, a mountain, a town or city). To do my work, I meet with the people who will tell me their ideas or what they need. Sometimes I'll suggest improvements or different paths for them to take. When I'm not in meetings, I'm usually working on projects.
My specialty is moving data between different systems. For example, our geologists might create a model of the ore field they plan to develop. Then the Risk Assessment group might want to see how that model aligns with other assets the company owns or with known risks. I would provide a way for that data to be shared. In most cases, this involves a bit of database work, some programming, and use of some very specialized software.
Lately, I have been doing work with drones to help capture data for modelling. I also make use of the Internet of Things (e.g., sensors that report the state of our industrial machines) and machine learning which helps us review many different scenarios very quickly.
There are three others on my team, including my manager. We have a business analyst who helps us understand what our coworkers want to achieve. There is a programmer who helps us build custom software when needed. Our manager keeps up to date in all the latest technology. We meet on video every day and talk about what we are all working on. This helps us solve problems together.
In addition to my technical skills, the main skill I use is critical thinking. I have to be able to picture a project from start to end. As part of this, I have to figure out what the obstacles are and come up with ways to work around them. I occasionally use linear algebra for some problems involving different map projections or image manipulation. We do a lot of work globally and I have started learning Spanish to help with some of our projects in Chile.
My career path is
I didn't really have a specific career picked out in high school. Actually, I had decided to take a year off, but I wasn't sure how to explain that to my family. I decided to apply to schools that I had almost no chance of getting into so I’d get my year off. However, the joke was on me! I was one of two students accepted without an undergrad degree at the Nova Scotia College of Geographic Sciences. It was very intense, but I didn't put a lot of pressure on myself. I knew I was still young enough that I could switch careers easily if this didn’t work out.
Anyway, I managed to graduate. After this, I worked in forestry for about 5 years. After two years working on Vancouver Island, there was a downturn in the forestry sector. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of a program that would send me back to school. There had been a lot of changes in technology and GIS in 8 years, so I went back to BCIT for a refresher. I was very lucky to get a job at a startup called Safe Software. In this job, I was exposed to a lot of new and emerging technology and I had the opportunity to work with clients in a consulting role. In addition, I developed expertise in setting up and maintaining GIS software and working with databases. That was the real turning point for my career. I gained such a well-rounded skill set that I became a hot commodity when it was time to move on! Check my LinkedIn Profile for more information.
I am motivated by
I really love new technology! We have quite an active Research and Development group here at Teck. Even though a lot of the technology they discuss is not strictly part of my job, people have noticed my energy for working on cool projects. Because of this, I often get calls to check out a new piece of hardware or some interesting new software to see how it can be used in mining. A lot of this stuff has made its way into my personal life, to a point where my hobbies and my work often overlap. I love to design and build small electronics projects. As a result, when a salesperson comes to the table with a new product, I often get invited to the meeting. I like to understand how things work to determine if they will be suitable for the rugged environment that I work in.
How I affect peoples’ lives
It's pretty interesting working at such a large company. Teck Resources Ltd employs about 15,000 people or so. As a result, there is always something interesting going on in some part of the company. We mine copper, zinc, and coal for steelmaking. Since we work out of head office, it's easy to forget that we have people working in mines that depend on what we do in order to operate effectively and safely. It's really neat to get to go to the mine site and see the impact of our work.
Outside of work I
I have a million hobbies! Currently, I enjoy leather working, and I'm hoping to get into making shoes. I also enjoy cycling, flying drones, woodworking, and I have a small sailboat that I've been restoring. I've been on the board of directors for many non-profits, including the Vancouver Hackspace, and Vancouver Community Laboratory. Today, I'm on the board of Vancouver New Music, a group that presents experimental music shows.
My advice to others
Get as much varied experience as possible! Someone asked me once if I had 10 years’ experience, or 1 year experienced 10 times. It’s better to have the 10 years’ experience. So keep learning and growing.