Tanya Knowles

I spent roughly ten years working as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist.

GIS can be a great playground, there’s scope to make great-looking applications and maps or delve deep into spatial analysis or think over thorny geometrical problems. The two things I enjoyed most about a GIS career was the people aspect and tinkering with processes and systems.

I spent many an hour using extract, transform, load (ETL) software and coding. Coding was something I had been very interested in since secondary school, but it was something that was not widely taught at the time. Scripting and coding felt like something only very intelligent people could do and I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge. A very kind colleague in my first job pushed me to try. That was all I needed, and I eventually became someone who helped others within my company learn to script and code.

I also really enjoyed working with people, both other GIS specialists, collaborating on solutions, and users, finding ways to fit their requirements as well as possible. The best kind of project was one when a creative user would come up with a problem I’d not come across before, and I’d spend time delving back into my education to pull out geometry or statistical concepts and code around them.

More recently, I’ve moved into roles that require a much wider technical understanding than GIS. My current role is managing a team that contains GIS specialists, data warehouse specialists, a business intelligence developer, and a web developer. Managing people, budgets, timelines and providing leadership are all new challenges for me. I’m back where I started in secondary school – these are things I secretly hoped but didn’t think I’d be capable of. I hope I can exceed my own expectations again!