Even we were amazed by the overwhelming number of you that registered for Esri UC within minutes of the webpages going live last month. As we were en route to our best opening day in the history of UC, Jeff Dickey of Salt Lake City, Utah, managed to sneak in before anyone else. In what has now become an Esri UC tradition, we took some time to speak with Jeff about all things UC and to find out how he is GIS.
Esri: Congrats and thank you for being the first person to register for the 2013 Esri UC. You’re listed as the GIS Manager for Barrick Gold. Can you tell us more about that?
Jeff Dickey: I’ve been with Barrick for two years and I’m the GIS Manager of the North American Regional Land Department. We use GIS to manage all of our cadastral records. We hold title to over 30,000 unpatented mining claims, in addition to thousands of acres of surface and mineral holdings.
Esri: Will this be your first UC?
Jeff: I’ve actually attended six user conferences, each one from 2007. Since that first conference in 2007, I’ve always been in awe of the sheer number of GIS professionals from across the world that come to San Diego. Even now, I’m still amazed when I look across the sea of people in the plenary session every year.
Esri: You keep coming back year after year. Why is that?
Jeff: I think it’s the best way to stay abreast of the latest developments in the Esri suite of products. In many ways, I feel that GIS is still in its infancy. I’m glad to be involved in an industry with such potential and I always come away inspired by the myriad ways my colleagues are using GIS. It reinforces the fact that there is always more to learn.
Plus, the UC is like the UN General Assembly of GIS. Just without all of the bombastic rhetoric.
Esri: What do you look forward to at UC?
Jeff: There’s a lot, but the first thing I do every year is make a mad dash from the airport to the Convention Center for the Esri Mining Group, which is usually held on Sunday afternoon. There’s just a lot to do at the conference. I love the “Where in the World” exhibit and I’m really interested in ArcGIS Online for Organizations this year.
Esri: If you were talking to someone who had never been to UC, what would you tell them?
Jeff: There really is no better place to learn about GIS. The technical workshops are phenomenal, and the networking opportunities are endless. I would also recommend that they find a user group, either based on their industry or region, and be sure to attend those meetings during the week.
Esri: With budgets being tight in most businesses, how do you explain to your superiors that you need to attend each year?
Jeff: I stress the importance of learning about the latest enhancements to the software, and the value of the training opportunities. Throughout most of my career, I’ve been the only person in my organization doing GIS work. The UC is often my only opportunity to meet and discuss GIS with other users.
Esri: It’s pretty clear that you think the UC is a big deal. That said, how did you end up being the first person to register?
Jeff: It has a lot to do with past experience. The first year I attended UC, I ended up registering about a month before the conference, and the only hotel I could get was a ways away from the convention center. I make it a point to always register early now, to make sure I get a room at my favorite hotel. I was ready to register on the 4th, but I know there were some technical issues that held things up on your end. The next day, I guess I was the lucky one to hit refresh at the right time on the website.
Esri: Finally, I know you weren’t able to make it to the Who is GIS booth last year, so we wanted to give you the chance now to tell us how you are GIS.
Jeff: Off the bat, I would say years of practice make me GIS. In terms of the specific trading card questions…
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
1st Eri UC: 2007
1st GIS project: Building a GIS database and developing a GIS-based interpretation system for Red Butte Garden & Arboretum in Salt Lake City
Interests: Snowboarding, exploring the landscapes of Southern Utah, and whatever my two kids are into at the time.
Interesting factoid: I play the didgeridoo
Bucket list: I hope to see Victoria Falls someday.
Esri: Thanks again for sharing your story with us. As a parting question, what piece of advice would you have for a first time attendee?
Jeff: Register early! Don’t miss out on your hotel room!