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Fun Times in Philly!

Philadelphia is known for the Liberty Bell, the iconic scene in the movie Rocky, and of course Philly cheesesteak. Another ‘icon’ familiar to staff in our Philadelphia office is the Esri Birthday Cake. The mouth-watering dessert is baked to perfection at a local bakery and quickly devoured at the team’s monthly birthday celebration.

“It’s not unheard of for many members of the office to be standing outside the break room just waiting for the cake to make its appearance,” said Kathie, the Regional Office Administrator.

After seeing pictures of the cake, we certainly can’t blame them!

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A New Network for Budding GIS Professionals

By Citabria Stevens, ArcNews editor

There are countless ways to enter the field of GIS and, with a bit of imagination and creativity, even more ways to use the technology.

This notion of limitless possibilities was the overarching theme of a series of events put on by the Young Professionals Network (YPN) at the 2015 Esri User Conference in San Diego, California. The YPN, in its inaugural year, offers budding GIS professionals—of any age—the opportunity to network with peers and meet some of the most dynamic and influential people in GIS.

Following two well-attended social events and two panel discussions—one on promoting the value of GIS and one on the GIS professional of tomorrow—the YPN rounded out the weeklong conference with a question-and-answer session with Esri founder Jack Dangermond and three quite distinct, and relatively new, Esri leaders.

The session began with the three Esri directors—Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s research and development office in Washington, DC; Robin Jones, director of Esri’s tech sector; and David DiBiase, Esri’s education team leader—explaining how they got into GIS and ended up at Esri.

The diverse panel then fielded questions from an even more heterogeneous audience—GIS degree-holders and self-taught practitioners; GIS managers and undergraduate students; people working for local US governments and others from abroad.

The audience asked for advice about education and work experience: Why is GIS largely only available as a subject of study rather than a major? Is it more important to get work experience or receive a master’s degree? They inquired about how to reveal the power of GIS to those who don’t know about it and wondered the best ways to mentor others: How can we educate our managers on the usefulness of GIS? What are the most practical ways to mentor people with varying levels of GIS knowledge?

Answers from the panel were candid and encouraging. Interest in GIS is growing, said DiBiase, so he expects to see a dozen bachelor’s degree programs in GIS within the next decade. Jones encouraged young GIS professionals to actually show their managers how GIS solves problems. “A demo is worth a million words,” she added. And Turner said that listening is as much a part of mentoring as teaching, urging members of the audience to engender an environment of trust around their work.

When Dangermond entered the room, the conversation shifted to the YPN itself and how it can grow.

“Fundamentally, good friendship is most important in life,” Dangermond told the audience, recounting what an elderly man in Japan once told him. “I want to see a great network occur,” he continued, “where you get together again and again and you have fun, actually, and you learn from your friends.”

Dangermond believes that people learn things in the context of good friendship because trust comes through camaraderie. “There’s nothing like hearing from your friends because they actually share . . . experience to experience,” he said.

And a solid network is what fuels career growth. As Turner said, finding and showing your managers and coworkers that they can have confidence in you is what gets young GIS professionals more projects—whether they’re working as the lone GIS technician in a company or building a startup from scratch.

Dangermond gave some perspective from his own career as well. As someone who was trying to use computers to fix problems when computers were still relatively obscure, he said everyone thought he was nuts. So he found out what people needed—became interested in what they wanted rather than a guy with interesting ideas—and then he did it.

“That’s the secret to your success,” Dangermond said. “Figure out what the world needs and wants.” And then do it. “Get the work, do the work, make sure you get paid,” he advised. Those are Dangermond’s three principles for pursuing any endeavor in GIS.

He also believes that people need to follow their own curiosities. “You guys all chose this field, didn’t you?” Dangermond asked. He then inquired if members of the audience remembered the moment they decided that GIS was what they wanted to do.

Dangermond’s moment was on November 7, 1968. That’s when he realized that “this is it,” as he put it—that he had ambitions to make a difference with this technology. “You’ve chosen the love of my life,” he stated to a rapt audience.

Even through the ensuing laughter, everyone’s respect for the love of Dangermond’s life—the field of GIS—was evident. As the field continues to grow, it seems that so will this community of young GIS professionals.

Some YPN participants will likely take DiBiase’s advice and pursue GIS Professional (GISP) recognition and Esri Technical Certifications, which he says will help formalize expertise and a community of practice. Some will continue breaking the rules and creating new ones, as Jones advocated, to keep raising the bar of what GIS professionals do.

Regardless of how members of the YPN develop their careers, the field of GIS will continue to attract people from all over the world with a myriad of interests and professional aspirations. And that will allow the Esri YPN to become increasingly indispensable.

To become part of this journey, join the YPN community.

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Mabel Ney Talks R&D, UX, and UC

Esri staff in our R&D Centers have ongoing collaboration with development teams in Redlands through regular phone calls and video conferences, but they also come here several times a year for meetings and personal interaction with teams. Mabel Ney from the Portland, Maine R&D was in town recently for just such a visit, so I took the opportunity to get to know her and the work she’s doing.

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Festive “Tea” Honors Retiring Employee

A colorful table setting and festive hats were part of a “high tea” luncheon held in the Washington, DC office to honor Judy Rote, who will be retiring from Esri June 30th. It was also Judy’s birthday, so it was a dual celebration!

“My time with Esri has been a blessing, from getting to know of Jack and Laura and to having wonderful managers/supervisors,” Judy reflected. “It truly has been a pleasure to work for and with Esri. My retirement is bittersweet because of getting to know everyone and missing them. So, thank you Esri for 16 wonderful years!”

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More Than Just Co-Workers

Rapport in Esri offices often extends beyond regular working hours, and the Denver office is no exception. They shared a few pictures of recent activities the team participated in.

Staff worked with the City of Broomfield to plantan American Linden Tree in East Park in honor of Earth Day.

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Esri Employees Were “Pumped Up” for Bike to Work Week

Several activities took place last week in celebration of Bike to Work Week. From an informative brown bag session on bike safety, our bike sharing program, and a new proposed bike trail, to a bike ride around campus, many employees took the opportunity to show their support of getting to work on two wheels.

In addition to the benefits of getting exercise and saving the environment, Esri offers ongoing incentives for employees who bike to work (as well as walk, carpool, or take public transportation). It’s a win-win! Continue reading

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Mapping Our Country’s First Mothers

By Guest Blogger Lynnae Van Voorthuysen, Media Relations Intern

Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt

Forty-four women gave birth to the most influential men in U.S. history—our nation’s Presidents. This Mother’s Day, Esri highlights these “First Mothers” in an interactive story map.

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David DiBiase Explains the Importance of Offering MOOCs as Part of Esri’s Education Program

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Esri’s Jim Baumann, published in the May 2015 issue of GeoConnexion. 

Esri’s education enterprise is diverse and spread across the entire company. For the most part, however, our education offerings serve people who already use our technology. What’s new about massive open online courses (MOOCs) is that they provide a way to engage with people who are curious about the power of spatial thinking and geospatial technologies, but who may not be GIS users or even have heard of Esri.

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Earth Day, Esri Style

There was a lot of activity on campus last Wednesday in celebration of Earth Day. From a tree giveaway to an e-waste collection event, Esri employees did their part to make Mother Earth proud.

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Wearing Two Equally-Important Hats at Esri

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.

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