Category Archives: Technology
On Wednesday, interns had the chance to sit in on a brown bag presentation from two employees in Esri’s Professional Services Division. Chad Helm, who works in the extended support programs group, gave us a brief overview of the vast department, telling us about the various projects done by 600 employees all over the world. The Professional Services team supports customers and partners in effectively implementing and applying Esri software products. This may include short-term, in-house technical work or more long-term solutions projects.
Further into the presentation, Christie Pleiss, also from the extended support programs group, pulled the information back around to her career after college and with Esri. Her advice to the interns was this:
“Stay the course, do a great job, and things will happen for you.”
Christie’s background is in both geography and engineering, but throughout her time in school and working various internships and jobs, the resounding theme was GIS. In 2001, she joined Esri and worked on the Solutions team (before it was even called that). Through the years she worked in different Esri departments, using new technologies and programs she did not have much experience with. Each time she was faced with a new challenge, she pushed herself to adapt, relied on more experienced people to teach her, and did her homework to learn new things. Now, as an Esri manager, she is able to look back on her time with the company to see that she pulled herself up from a nuts and bolts technical position to the managerial, business side of things.
At the end of their presentation, the interns had learned much more than just about what the Professional Services team does; they had gotten some great career and life advice from two seasoned employees. Their last take-away was that we as humans never stop learning and that it is important to take those opportunities to develop ourselves further whenever we can.
Thanks Chad, Christie, and the rest of the Professional Services team for all you do!
During the last week of June, interns were given the opportunity to sit in on some demonstrations in the Esri Applications Prototype Lab. These demos included looking at real-time social media trend maps, environmental habitat maps, and some 3D responsive design. For those of us not working in the APL this summer, these demonstrations were incredible to see. Just another cool piece of Esri that interns got a peek of.
A big thank you to Hugh Keegan and his team for taking the time to show us their stuff!
In the scheme of things, the terms user experience and user interface are relatively new to the technology world. Even the job title User Experience Architect is unfamiliar to many of us. But for Steven Nelson, it’s his nine-to-five.
Steve works in the Creative Lab, or the “creative arm of Esri,” as he likes to call it. Simply put, his job in user experience is to help map out applications that are intuitive and simple to use for consumers with various technology skill levels. Steve works closely with user interface (UI) architects who work on an application’s “front end” to make it both visually appealing and easy to follow. Together these two groups take an application from a simple idea to a useful end product.
Take, for example, Esri’s ArcGIS software that is used to create interactive maps. Steve and his team are constantly looking at the product’s usability to see where users are struggling. Then, in conjunction with the UI architects, he breaks down the problem to see where an improvement can be made. Esri applications must look and function well to be useful for our customers.
Thanks, Steve for a very insightful presentation!
With its amusing play on the app’s name, esrigram has taken the company to the popular photo-sharing service. With over 200 million users, many businesses included, Instagram has become a mobile sensation. How does Esri fit in? esrigram is a way to visually represent what’s going on around campus, post pictures of maps (of course) and fun Throwback Thursday memories, and much more. There are even posts talking about the upcoming Esri International User Conference and pictures of our new building on campus.
esrigram is a space for geogeeks and all things Esri. Tag your own #geophotos and you may just see your pictures on the esrigram feed!
One of the great things about being an intern at Esri is getting to experience and learn about things that are going on throughout the company. One of the ways they expose us to that information is through the Intern Brown Bag Series, where employees from various teams present the cool things they’ve been working on. This week we had the pleasure of being joined by Art Haddad, Chief Technology Officer at Esri.
Art’s presentation was a very helpful introduction to GIS and location analytics. He began by explaining we live in a geo-enabled world. What is geo-enabled? Well, anytime we use our smart phones to get from point A to point B, we are using locations and maps to find our way. But what is going on behind the scenes when we click “find directions”? The answer is many things. Location analytics through the use of maps has found a way to bring GIS to the rest of the world, but in a way everyone can understand.
Art’s most salient point was, “Location is everywhere but is constantly overlooked.” A simple location can provide vast amounts of information for someone who is trying to sell a product or find a target market. By nature, humans are visual, and these interactive maps can give precise data about demographics, property development, and other critical pieces of information. These tools give people and businesses intelligence and access to information at the click of a button instead of through hours of research. “We want to be able to empower people.”
Thank you, Art, for a fantastic presentation!
Recently President Obama called for businesses to create new opportunities for students through classroom technology. In his speech at the White House Science Fair this week, he spoke about some of the amazing innovations young students have created in the past year and emphasized there is still significant talent to be tapped.
Esri has responded to the President’s request in a remarkable way. During Tuesday’s event, President Jack Dangermond announced that Esri has pledged $1 billion to make its mapping software available to more than 100,000 public schools. This pledge, along with those from other businesses and nonprofit organizations, will have a significant impact on building up our youth for the future.
In an interview with Trish Regan on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart,” Dangermond said, “We are challenged by getting new workers to work in (the GIS) field.” He goes on to say that this technology will help kids in school do projects that may eventually have a true impact on the communities they live in. The goal of the $1 billion pledge is to get students working with the software from a young age so they may become interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers years before they start working. Esri will be conducting workshops this summer to help teachers understand the software and help them integrate it into their curriculum.
Hear more about this inspiring initiative:
I recently had the opportunity to get to know two members of our IST Division, Diana and Dimitri. We talked about what it’s like being a business analyst at Esri, what motivates them, and what skills are most valued in new recruits.
How long have you been with Esri?
Diana: I’ve been here over 14 years; the last 8 have been in IST. Before that, I was in the US Air Force.
Dimitri: I started January 2012, and prior to that I was an SAP consultant for 16 years.
Do you each have a specialty within the business analyst role?
Diana: It’s expected that we have the general skills of a business analyst—requirements gathering, processes, communications—that type of collaboration is needed. But we each also have specialized skills where we understand a particular product—in my case, Salesforce—and can take those requirements and figure out how to build them into the system.
Dimitri: When I got hired, I had the HR background from both the business and the SAP side, so it was easy for me to transition into my role here. Additionally, my prior consulting experience gave me the skills I needed to be a successful business analyst at Esri.
What’s the most rewarding part about being a business analyst at Esri?
Dimitri: For me, it’s helping our colleagues. If you think about it, I support HR and our HR team supports our employees, who build and support Esri products. We (business analysts) are indirectly helping the world, through Esri. That, to me, is the most rewarding thing—interacting with the business and sharing knowledge.
Diana: On our team, I love that they allow for creativity and they look to us for help; also seeing that we influence a user’s experience, whether it be a member of our Sales Division or our customers, because they see our product immediately. The fact that we can have that quick turnaround is awesome.
Are there things about working in IT at Esri that set us apart from other technology companies?
Dimitri: We’re not just standing back and saying, “Okay, everything’s working fine.” We’re always looking at how to improve.
Diana: I agree. We keep moving forward with processes and standards, and we keep evolving with what is new—both as a business analyst as well as with technology. We just keep improving.
Dimitri: I sit in meetings with the CIO. How often are business analysts sitting in a meeting with their organization’s CIO and he is really listening to what you’re saying? That to me is unheard of. We’re a flat organization, so you can exert a lot of influence as a business analyst, more than I think we could at most other companies our size.
What does Esri provide you to stay on top of trends and changing technology?
Diana: With Salesforce in particular, we have a user group that meets once a month here on site. We also have our own Esri-wide BA group that meets every two weeks to bring us all together to share best practices and what we are working on. Esri also offers tuition reimbursement, so you can take workshops and classes to learn on your own.
Are there other things you think potential applicants would find appealing, whether it’s about the work you do or Esri as an organization?
Dimitri: For me, zero for medical premiums, which is great. Not a lot of companies pay the full ride for medical and dental. The other thing for me is they’re big on work–life balance here at Esri; it’s flexible in terms of work hours. I don’t think I’ve been to a place that’s been as flexible.
Diana: As a Salesforce BA, I love that we’re on the cutting edge of incorporating features and abilities. We are allotted time to go to conferences, which is highly valuable because I bring the knowledge I gained back to my colleagues. It’s unheard of to be able to use all of the pieces that a company or a software tool is exposing. Our colleagues expect that we know what’s coming up and will be ready. That drives me to continue learning.
Dimitri: We don’t have that hierarchy that lots of companies have. In most places, they give you certain responsibilities and that’s it. I think here we still have that influence and when you say something, it’ll be taken into consideration.
Diana: Esri’s been awesome with allowing employees to grow and provide opportunities if you’re willing and want to excel and expand your horizons.
What do you think is the most important skill a potential candidate should have?
Diana: For me it’s a creative approach to problem solving and good communication. You also have to be flexible enough to adjust to changing priorities, from production issues to support.
Dimitri: I’d also say listening skills, because in order to gather requirements from your users you have to really listen to what they’re trying to achieve from a business perspective. I also think presentation skills are important, because we do have to present our findings and recommendations to the business. And, of course, technical skills are important because whether you’re a business analyst for Salesforce or if you’re in SAP, you need to understand the technology and how it can best be leveraged to achieve business goals.
Diana: You also need a customer service mindset. You may not talk to the customers, but because you’re influencing how they work, you need to have that insight.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Diana: You definitely won’t get bored working here. Being a business analyst, you are challenged all the time. You get to know your colleagues, who can become your closest friends and like family.
Dimitri: You want to be with a company that’s growing, not a company that’s stagnating. You can see the growth at Esri—the new buildings and renovating existing ones, putting money into infrastructure, our products, hiring great people. So that actually shows that we’re getting Esri to that next level. Jack (Dangermond, Esri president) is very forward thinking in terms of where he wants to go, and I think that’s good because there’s a vision there. If you really want to have a long-term career here, you can.
Have a question for Diana or Dimitri? Email them via email@example.com.
I’m on the Location Analytics team in Product Development. I work closely with developers and the Developer Lead to ensure that features are implemented as per the specification and that they make sense from the user’s perspective.
I started as a Support Analyst back when the SDK Team was the Developer Support Group. After two years, I transitioned into the role of a Group Lead. I was in Support Services for five years before I moved to my current role in Product Development.
By Maura, Strategic Marketing Intern
Intern Kathryn Hagerman occupies a unique niche at Esri. Serving as a member of the Partner Program Team, she is working to streamline knowledge transfer campaigns. She also worked to develop a collection of ArcGIS Online maps to share stories about the growth of the global Esri Partner Network and highlight exciting work Esri partners are doing.
By Maura, Strategic Marketing Intern
As my 12-week internship comes to a close, I am able to look back and see all that I have learned after spending a summer at Esri. The values and benefits Esri proclaims on its website are not a marketing ploy: they truly exist here. To prove my point, I looked to the “Top 10 Reasons to Work at Esri” and reflected on how each played a role in my internship.