Geo Week News

January 16, 2024

Geo Week 2024 to feature sessions focusing on workforce, diversity challenges

The two sessions will be held back-to-back and are being presented by the WGIC.
DEI-focused panel from Geo Week 2023 - Left to Right: Albert Momo (moderator), Denise Wong, Gertrude Namitala, Valrie Grant, Barbara Ryan and Carla Lauter

The geospatial industry finds itself in an interesting position in today’s economic landscape, going from an always important but often forgotten space to a more front-and-center role. Between a growing number of consumer-facing offerings pinned to location, to new digital worlds that will require real-world context, to an influx of people into cities around the world leading to new construction, the demand for geospatial data, and in turn geospatial professionals, is rapidly growing.

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February 11-13, 2024 | Colorado Convention Center | Denver, CO, USA

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However, just like so many other industries around the world, the geospatial world has had some trouble keeping up with the demand and hiring enough qualified professionals to undertake all of this important work. It’s not just getting enough people in the industry, either - it’s also about getting the right people. So much of this work is global, meaning perspectives from all corners of the globe and all walks of life are crucial to maximizing the quality and impact of the work. 

In other words, the problems of workforce shortages and the lack of diversity in the geospatial industry are very much interconnected. They will also be a focus of a 90-minute block at Geo Week 2024, being held February 11-13 in Denver, Colorado at the Colorado Convention Center. These topics will be addressed on the Exhibit Hall Theater stage in back-to-back sessions presented by the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), taking place on February 12 starting at 2:00 PM and running to 3:30 PM Mountain Time.

The back-to-back sessions will start with a panel discussion focusing on the workforce challenges in the geospatial industry. The session, entitled When Demand Exceeds Supply - Strategies for the Rapidly Growing Geospatial Workforce, will include the following speakers:

  • Siva Ravada, Oracle (Moderator)

  • Aaron Addison, WGIC

  • Cecilia Hattingh, Woolpert

  • Shawana P. Johnson, Global Marketing Insights, Inc.

  • Dr. Sheila Lakshmi Steinberg, UMass Global Institute for Geospatial Education

This session includes folks from all corners of the geospatial industry, from practitioners to industry groups to education, providing a wide perspective on the crucial challenges that are plaguing the industry in filling up workforce openings. In the discussion, the group will touch on strategies for employers to manage the demand-supply gap, looking at how they can both attract and retain these employees. Attendees for this session will “gain insights into how organizations and educational institutions can collaborate and adapt to meet the increasing demands of the rapidly evolving geospatial sector.”

Immediately after this session concludes, a new panel will take the stage to focus more specifically on issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion within the geospatial workforce. This session, entitled The Geospatial Inclusion Imperative: Diverse Leadership Shaping Tomorrow, will feature the following speakers:

  • Valrie Grant, GeoTechVision (Moderator)

  • Qassim Abdullah, Woolpert

  • Lora Burns, Geo Week

  • Adina Gillespie, Hexagon

  • Dr. Sheila Lakshmi Steinberg, UMass Global Institute for Geospatial Education

  • Dr. Amy Rock, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science

Just like with the previous session, this diversity-focused panel discussion also features perspectives from different parts of the geospatial industry, all focused on one goal. The discussion will not only touch on why it’s important to get as many different perspectives and backgrounds within your team as possible, but also share strategies to achieve these goals. The session will feature examples of how some panelists have implemented initiatives around DEI, while also touching on some of the systemic barriers that continue to make these efforts a challenge. 

These two WGIC-hosted sessions are just a couple of highly insightful and interesting sessions that will be a part of the Geo Week 2024 conference program. If you aren’t already attending, be sure to register today.

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