Geo Week News

December 20, 2023

Younger geospatial professionals discuss the next generation of industry insiders

Some of the brightest young minds in the industry give advice to the next generation after them, and discuss the importance of diversity in the space.

Last week, we shared some thoughts from some of the brightest young minds in the geospatial industry, many of whom were nominated for Geo Week’s Younger Geospatial Professional Award. As a reminder, this award “recognizes a YGP for her/his/their achievements in the 3D geospatial technology space,” and is co-presented by Geo Week and Lidar News

In our conversations published last week, we focused on how the geospatial industry can serve the greater good, with young professionals sharing both how their specific work was serving things like environmental and societal concerns. As part of these conversations, we also discussed with these young minds another important topic facing the industry today: The future workforce. 

This is an industry that needs fresh perspectives coming into the fold. That’s true in the sense of the need for younger professionals to enter the fray as a previous generation starts to retire out of positions, and it’s also true in terms of diversity. Geospatial work affects everyone all around the world, so it only makes sense to ensure people from every region around the world, bringing perspectives from different backgrounds and experiences, join the industry to maximize its overall value.

Gene Roe told Geo Week News, speaking about advice he’d give to young people in the industry, “With the rapid emergence of AI, the younger geospatial professional workforce is going to have become much more creative in bringing value to their projects. The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. - Albert Einstein.”

This is also a question we asked of many of the young professionals we spoke to. These are people who have already begun making their mark on the industry, and while they still have a ways to go in their career, the advice they can provide to the next generation is invaluable. Nejc Dougan, CTO at Flai, echoed Roe’s comments, speaking to the importance of being willing to continually learn and adapt. He said, “The key skill to master is the ability to learn new things effectively. Stay curious, constantly question everything, and find joy in your pursuits.”

Kirill Safrin

Speaking to Kirill Safrin, Project Engineer with Chief Engineering PLLC, he spoke to the importance of taking in a number of different perspectives and using these conversations to grow your own career. 

“With millions of people having diverse experiences and opinions, it's crucial to listen and make an effort to understand different perspectives,” he said. “Adopting this approach enables more effective learning, potentially enhancing both professional and personal relationships. This, in turn, facilitates personal growth, allowing one to evolve both as an individual and as a specialist within their field of expertise.”

When we asked Szilvia Szilagyi, Founder of Drone Design Lab, one piece of advice she’d give to younger professionals, she made sure to create expectations for failure and rejection. Her advice, given below, is strong advice for young professionals in any industry, really.

Szilvia Szilagyi

“Proactively bring a chair, even when it's not requested, and try to select your leaders and not vice versa. Expect numerous rejections as not everyone will support you; success lies in persisting despite the hurdles. Remember: patience is key, along with a good cup of coffee to keep you going.”

Along with asking for individual advice for young professionals, we also wanted to talk with this next generation of industry leaders about how to diversify the industry. It’s a crucial mission moving forward in the geospatial world, and the work has to start with those already in the industry reaching out to underrepresented communities and making sure their experiences and perspectives are being brought into discussions and eventual innovations.

Take what Matthew Berry, a Lidar Processor and Analyst with FlyGuys, said about the importance of outreach. “Much like the globe could not be formed if a single country was missing, we will struggle to obtain a true understanding of the world around us if even one person is excluded. It is our responsibility to make sure that we are doing our best to reach out to every community and show the importance of the work as well as opportunities that are available in this industry.”

Alex Okscin

In terms of how that outreach is done, a big part of that is simply presenting the educational opportunities. Alex Okscin, a Product Marketing Manager with Trimble, told Geo Week News about how Trimble Technology Labs helped him get into the space, and how that model needs to be expanded. 

“Many construction management, civil engineering, and landscape architecture programs may have some small introduction to surveying, but for many students in related fields of study, the concept of having a career in the geospatial industry is unknown. I was fortunate enough to be going through a construction-focused program that had a Trimble Technology Lab, which introduced me to the geospatial industry. Manufacturers like Trimble can play a significant role in promoting the industry in order to attract a more diverse workforce by making their technology more widely available to universities and educational institutions.”

Balakrishna Tarihal

Balakrishna Tarihal, Implementation Engineer with Mobileum, summed this discussion up nicely, speaking to the need to not only perform outreach, but also foster an inclusive and supportive internal culture to maximize the careers of new employees.

“To diversify its workforce, the geospatial industry should prioritize inclusivity in recruitment, offer equal opportunities to underrepresented groups, and establish mentorship programs. Cultivating a supportive workplace culture, initiating outreach efforts, forming educational partnerships, and addressing unconscious biases are crucial steps to attract a more diverse talent pool, fostering innovation and success in the industry.”

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