One of the things many Esri employees enjoy about working here is the variety in their roles. This is certainly the case with Matt Madigan, who has been with Esri just over two and a half years. His situation is a little unique in that he works out of two offices. His main job is as an account manager in our Washington, DC regional office, but he also works with startups and 1776 out of the Esri R&D Center–DC. I enjoyed getting to know more about Matt and his work, as well as his time as an Olympic rowing coach.
Tell us about your work with Esri.
As an account manager, I’m responsible for a couple of accounts on the intel team. Previously, I was the operations director and director of federal business at GeoIQ. We were working with In-Q-Tel and deployed at many agencies within the intelligence community, so that carried over into my role on Esri’s federal team because I was very familiar with the community.
My work at the R&D center is also really exciting. Last fall we started a relationship with 1776, which is a startup incubator with 240-plus member companies. We want to empower them with the ArcGIS platform and then let them bring their innovation to that platform. So instead of having to build a new GIS out of Open Source, they’re using our tools to actually build out their solutions.
I understand you’re also involved with Esri’s new Young Professionals Network. What’s that about?
This is an initiative to get young professionals in the federal government, commercial, non-profit, developer, and startup communities to become more familiar with Esri tools. More importantly, it’s a forum for them to see how these tools can help them move forward both in their careers and with their projects. The Young Professionals Network had their first meeting at the Esri Federal GIS Conference in February. Nearly 500 attended and took advantage of career and GIS employment workshops, a Q&A session with [Esri president] Jack Dangermond and other Esri leaders, and a networking happy hour.
I was told you were a rowing coach for the Olympics.
Yes, that’s true. That was in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. China was amazing—the excitement of being at my first Olympics was just incredible. In Beijing I was fortunate to represent the rowing team and march in the opening ceremonies, which is beyond words.
And how did you get involved in that?
I had been a rower for a long time and was on a couple of World championship teams. I worked with the sports scientists at the US Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, had a pretty good idea on program design, and had trained with prominent national team coaches as an athlete and coach. My second summer of coaching I formed a boat that won trials and went on to the world championships where we won a bronze medal. And then in my third year of coaching, we had several boats win Pan American Games medals. What was really exciting was when the following generation of athletes came in, we continued to do well winning medals at the national and international level and so it just kind of blossomed from that.
At GeoIQ we started GeoCommons, which became known as lightweight GIS or web-based GIS. It enabled a community of people to easily share GIS data in a variety of formats and then do some basic map visualization and analytics. We needed people to go recruit data, clean it up, and then load it into GeoCommons as foundational data. Many rowers would come into my rowing program who needed part time jobs, and we were able to hire them at GeoIQ. I would coach them in the morning, they’d work for five or six hours at GeoIQ, and then would go back to the boathouse and row in the afternoon. It became a very close-knit group of people coming here for one reason, but then they started their careers in GIS.
Are you still coaching?
I run coaching clinics now and then. There are a couple people at Potomac Boat Club I’m helping this spring. One of them won a gold medal in 2012 in London and the other one is an up-and-comer who shows a lot of potential.
Are there things about Esri you feel are different compared to other software companies or other organizations in the GIS space?
I really like the atmosphere around Esri where Jack really cares about his customers and the communities he works with. He’s interested in what his customers are doing and ensuring they are successful. The fact that he’s donating $1 billion in software to schools through the ConnectED Initiative and trying to create a GIS mentoring system in schools is so important for STEM education. He really has his heart in the right spot, and when you can work for an organization where you get that from the owner, it empowers us as employees to make a difference.