Author Archives: LeslieR
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.
How did you find your way to Esri?
I got my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York and worked in advertising there for a while. My husband and I eventually moved to Maine and we both ended up at a mapping company called DeLorme. Esri uses their data, so often times when you look at a web map, you’ll see DeLorme as one of the sources. I worked there for 11 years. I started as a traditional cartographer working on films, transitioned to digital cartography, and finally to Director of Research and Development.
I left there when I became interested in user-centered design. I went into consulting and focused on information architecture and user experience design. The job for Esri came up in Portland—certainly I was aware of Esri because of DeLorme, and several people from DeLorme had gone to Esri. I wasn’t looking to change, but it was Esri and it was in my own backyard. It sounded like a really good opportunity…very user-centered, a really interesting design process. It mingled with the process I was familiar with, but took it a bit beyond, where everybody on the team was much more involved. That was very appealing.
Going from a graphic design background into what you’re doing now—is that out of the ordinary, or are more and more people doing that?
Oftentimes people who go into user experience design either come in from a graphic design background, interestingly from a library science background, or a technical writing background. They’re interested in helping people find information in a very user-friendly way, helping them on their path and supporting that visual learning aspect we have. So it’s a likely transition for them.
How would you describe what your typical workday is like?
I primarily work on design documents. I white board out and sketch the flow of what I think the path will be as you move from screen to screen. As I’m doing that, I will pull the developer over and have them validate what I’m doing. If it’s something bigger or more complex, we’ll have a design session in which we bring in a couple of designers, some developers, and QA engineers. We’ll all take a stab at sketching ideas and start to see how that comes together until we have an agreed-upon design.
I also try to have touch points with our customers routinely. I get out of the office to be with our customers or be on a phone call with them so I can discuss things that are perplexing us at that time. We have some questions, we don’t know the answers, and we want to hear from people who will actually use the product. We’re trying to do even more of that and get the broader team out to do that as well. I’ve also been working on animations, which is really fun to do. There’s really good tools right now to do that.
What about your work keeps you challenged?
The depth of challenge at Esri is really what holds my attention. In other jobs I’ve had, there was a very narrow customer base, and you knew them really well. But here, you can talk with somebody from city government and you can talk with five different agencies and start to see a pattern, but then you go over to somebody in utilities and it’s totally different. They have all these other considerations you have to think about. So now I feel like when I design, I’m designing for at least five different personas, where before it was one or two.
And with Esri customers, they want everything to be as good as it can be too. They want to be part of that solution, so they open the doors and say, “Yes, come on over. Talk with us. We’ll give you time.” They understand the importance of doing that and it benefits them in the long run.
Do you work with a particular product, or across the whole ArcGIS platform?
Typically I am involved and focused on one product, but I do design reviews for the other designers on the other products. This way we can make sure that across the platform, there’s a consistent experience. You never feel like you’re focused only on one product.
What do you feel makes Esri different as an employer. You talked about the scope of work and the customers. Is there anything else?
Yeah, the benefits are crazy good. When I was told that not only I would be covered, but my husband would be fully covered, I was like, “Wait, what?” One thing I notice when I come to Redlands is that you see these long-term friendships. People run into each other and you can tell they’ve known each other for 12, 16 years. You don’t get that in many companies—that long-term relationship. And yet, they’re very accepting of new people into that relationship, it’s not closed off.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The DevSummit and the User Conference are amazing for employees to be able to go to. If you are in development of products or marketing, it’s nice to see what everybody’s working on and how they relate to each other. Last year I was fairly new and we were just starting to talk about mobile web, an aspect of what we were working on, and this tool called PhoneGap. It just happened that somebody from the team who was using PhoneGap was walking through. I heard them say something about it and said, “Wait a minute, this is what we’re talking about. Can you come over and talk to us?” Even if you were here at Redlands, you may not have heard that conversation, but it’s because everybody is huddled up suddenly. To have that open dialogue is an awesome opportunity.
Want to join Mabel and the rest of the Portland team? Check out current openings.
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!”
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.
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
By Guest Blogger Lynnae Van Voorthuysen, Media Relations Intern
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.
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.
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.
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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