GIS Data Manager, Natural Power
“Since life is short and the world is wide, the sooner you start exploring the better.” (Simon Raven, The Spectator, 1968). This is my belief and how I justify having more holidays than anyone else I know – it’s hard work being a geographer, but someone’s got to do it!
I’ve always had a burning desire to explore the world, I have had a lifelong obsession with maps, and geography was the only subject I really liked at school. It’s therefore not surprising that I graduated with a BA Honours in Geography from Strathclyde University, before completing an MSc in GIS at Edinburgh University, preparing me for a career in digital mapping.
Geography is an all-encompassing subject and can mean different things to different people, but to me geography is all about maps. The distinct advantage of studying geography is you’re not pigeon-holed into a set career path or specific industry sector, although there are opportunities to specialise, like I have in GIS. I have worked for a wide range of employers, including a local authority, a water company, a fire and rescue service, and both a developer and now a consultant in the renewable energy sector, helping to develop onshore and offshore windfarms as well as wave and tidal projects.
What all these companies require is the need to simplify often complex analysis and landscapes into a clear graphic representation, in the form of a map. In my current role, I use GIS to enable the company to make well-informed decisions about the suitability of developments and potential constraints, allowing our clients to effectively target resources. GIS also allows us to analyse and answer ‘what if’ scenarios, and provides an efficient way to manage the large amounts of data we have, creating a robust evidence base for decisions being made.
It became clear to me some time ago that being a geographer isn’t a nine-to-five job. I continually assess the world from a spatial point of view, which allows me to indulge my passion and love for maps, personally as well as professionally. I say it’s ‘hard’ work but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
This article was written for the winter 2012-2013 edition of the Geographer