Is it worth being a member of your local professional association?

Is it worth being a member of your local professional association?


Professional organisations and business groups are common place in all industry sectors and the GeoSpatial Industry is no exception.

These groups and organisations, in the main, are member funded organisations. That is, they exist mainly through the income generated through membership fees. So, it is worth becoming a member or maintaining your existing membership.

In my opinion, the answer is definitely YES, as it gives you the vital link between you and your industry, outside of your work / educational environment. But don’t think that just being a member will bring you benefits. Like any network, you need to work it, be involved and be always looking to connect with industry professionals that can make a difference.

What are the best organisations to be involved with?


Well that really depends on what you want to get out of them. If you are studying then you might look at professional organisations that can help you network with potential employers. If you are already an industry professional you might look to get involved with a group more aligned to the industry you are working in or the technology that you use.

Let’s examine the right organisation for you and your stage of your career.

1.      Studying or recent graduate


If you are still studying or have just graduated and looking for that first career opportunity, then look at an industry organisation that will give you value for money plus plenty of broad networking and professional development opportunities. Many professional organisations have discounted or free membership for students.


2.      Young Professional


As you career starts to develop, look for industry organisations that can help you maintain your broad industry development (CPD – Continual Professional Development) through courses, conferences and networking opportunities. You should also start to narrow your focus on specific industry or technical user groups where you can network with professionals in the same industry i.e. water, environment, surveying, etc or using the same software / technology.  For example Esri around the globe have local user groups and national and international conferences.


3.      Career Change


If you are looking for career change, then look for industry groups where you can network on a regular basis with industry leaders. This can be similar to the ‘Young Professional’ category but with a greater focus on where you want to take your career. It may be an opportunity to join new groups in other focus areas that you might be interested in moving into.


4.      Business Building


Are you trying to build your own business or are in a business development role for the company you work for? If so look for business groups that can help you find projects or are open to collaboration and helping their members find business. These sorts of groups tend to be a little more expensive to me members of but will definitely help you to streamline the business development process.



Industry Groups


Here is a short list of organisations that you may wish to investigate further.

  • Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (Australia)
  • Spatial Industry Business Association (Australia)
  • Mapping Sciences Institute Australia(Australia)
  • Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Association (Australia)
  • Coalition of Geospatial Industries (USA)
  • International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (Global)
  • URISA (Global)
  • American Association of Geographers (USA)
  • American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (USA)
  • Association for Geographic Information (UK)
  • CaGIS (USA)
  • California Geographic Information Association (USA)
  • Canadian Institute of Geomatics (Canada)
  • EUROGI (Europe)
  • Geospatial Information and Technology Association (Global)
  • Irish Organisation for Geographic Information (Ireland)
  • Plus many more


Get Involved


Get involved. You will only get benefit from any of these types of organisations if you get involved. Attend meetings, functions, events and conferences. Join the committee, volunteer at industry events and network with your peers that you can help and that can be of assistance to you and your career.  Be a go-giver not just a go-getter J

Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you – go to the opportunities.

Source GeoSpatial Connect

Building Relationships not Just Connections


Building Relationships not Just Connections

GeoSpatial Connect Job Seeker Coaching

No matter at what point you are in your career, moving up the ladder or even just trying to get onto it, it is all about building relationships not just connections.

It is very easy these days to build lots of connects on Facebook, Linked In, Google Plus, etc , I can even show you a strategy on how to build good quality connections in a short period of time, but are these connections good for your career.

Let’s have a look at three broad areas and why both sides of the equation can be important but it will be very obvious which side you should be leaning towards. These broad areas are “Quality versus Quantity”, “Mentors versus Colleagues” and “Networking versus Chatting”.

Quality versus Quantity

I have almost 8000 connections on Linked In, there may be a good chance you are one of these people, but how many of these people do I really know and connect with on a regular basis, to be honest not many. That is not to say I have not had at least one e-mail conversation with a great majority of them but there are probably only a couple of hundred people that I converse with on a regular basis. In many ways business and finding a job can be seen in this category, so it is a real numbers game. The more people you connect with the more likely you are to find people you resonate with. The aim of the game is to find enough quality people to build a professional relationship with. Find people that are doing the sort of role you would like to be doing, or work for the company you would like to work for. Reach out and introduce yourself, connect, follow and ask questions. Build the relationships as this is what will get you a job or promotion or anything you desire.

Mentors versus Colleagues

When you are building your quality list of connections, look for people who can help you on the journey. As mentioned above, people in the role you would like to have, or who work for a company you would like to work for. These are the sorts of people who can mentor you or give you the inside running on a job vacancy that may be coming up. Don’t disregard your college mates or other work colleagues as one day they may be in the position of influence but build the relationship with the people who can help you right here, right now.

Networking versus Chatting

It is very easy today to waste time chatting to your connections about the weather, the results of the weekend sports, family or any irrelevant small talk. Don’t get me wrong this is important in building a solid relationship as you want the people you are connecting with to feel a genuine connection, but too many times we waste time chatting about nothing and forget to ask simple questions that will help us to get to the crux of why we are networking. Networking is probably the most important part of the job seeking process but it is one part that most people do not put time into. When I ran GISjobs Australia for over 10 years, I would say that less than 25% of all GIS industry roles were filled through advertising or through external recruitment agencies. That means that most jobs are filled through word-of-mouth, well before they are advertised. Make an effort to be involved in your local business and user groups, get know in your industry, be an active participant not just expecting things to flow to you without any effort.

GeoSpatial Connect Job Seeker Coaching

Are you looking to get a start in the GeoSpatial industry or move in a new direction? Are you looking for good people to fill your vacancy?

Let GeoSpatial Connect help you with all of these requirements.

Remember each Wednesday we hold a job seekers webinar to discuss the issues associated with finding a job in the GeoSpatial Industry.

If you have any specific concerns let me know or just ask on the day.

Join GeoSpatial Connect 

Dean Howell

GeoSpatial Connect

Working in Australia – Part 3

kiran burra

Working in Australia – Part 3

Today we continue with our series on ‘Working in Australia’ with the personal story written by Kiran Burra. He talks about his dream to migrate to Australia and the process he went through.

Kiran Burra – My Journey and Settlement in Australia


After completing my post graduate studies in geosciences, with a Diploma in GIS & Remote Sensing, I started my career in GIS with Patni Computer Systems, a multinational company in India. I gained professional experience working on all GIS & CAD software in capturing, maintaining data and quality assurance on all outgoing data. I am currently working for SA Power Networks, a distribution network company in Adelaide, undertaking in house GIS projects.

I have extensive experience applying geographic analysis and technologies for improved information management and decision support worldwide.  I am experienced in data creation and maintenance, GPS/GIS integration and GIS analysis working on industry standard GIS tools like ESRI ArcGIS (3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst extensions), GeoMedia, and CAD.

Migrating to Australia:

I grew up in India in a well educated family where my parents both served in public sector organisations. With a growing passion for technology and continuous backup from my parents, I spent my childhood discovering new things. After finishing high school, I was inspired to pursue further studies in sciences and technology. During this time, I discovered an interest in geography and then pursued a university undergraduate degree in science and followed by masters in the geosciences.

Whilst searching for an appropriate GIS role, I undertook additional training by completing certifications in GIS. Shortly after that I started my GIS journey working with a number of very good companies.

Migrating to Australia was my dream of mine since 2002 but the circumstances and financial conditions did not support my dream. Whilst I working in Libya, with a Swedish company, I my colleagues encouraged me to get the process started.

In 2008 I consulted a migration company in India and from there the process of migration started by submitting all my certificates, IELTS scores, medicals, Police clearance certificates, and showing my assets in India. I was approved for a visa in September 2011 after waiting for more than a year and receiving my sponsorship from Government of South Australia.

After coming to Australia: 

I thought coming to Australia and settling down would be easy. It was difficult to find job especially in the GIS field. It took more than 3 months to get a job and enter into Australian market. I would say I am lucky to have good skills in GIS and of course God’s grace was upon me.

Future Plans: 

Living happy life with healthy work-life balance. I am primarily looking to settle into a new GIS role in Adelaide, but I am open to relocation if offered a suitable permanent role interstate in GIS.

I trust you find this information helpful

Dean Howell

Founder and CEO Geospatial Connect

Is the job interview more about your skills or the relationship?

Is the job interview more about your skills or the relationship?


The job interview is very much about you building a relationship with the interviewing panel and making a great impression.

If you have got to this point your resume should have done its job in letting the prospective employer know that you have the skills needed to do the job, so now is the time to make a great first impression. If you are not getting to the interview stage, then maybe it is time to revamp your resume.

The GeoSpatial Industry is very much a technical profession so it is inevitable that the interview panel will ask some questions around your skills and experience but is the way that you answer them will determine how you rank above the rest of the candidates.

How to make a great first impression?

Arrive early

Always make sure you arrive early for your interview. There are always going to be traffic issues or something that comes up at the last moment, so do not leave this to chance. Be early and be eager.

Dress appropriately for the job interview

Even if you are applying for a field job take the time to dress for the interview. Remember you are trying to make a good impression. Do you hair, brush your teeth (am I starting to sound like your mother!), take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “would I hire this person?”


A smile will help break the ice with the interview panel. Depending on your customs, shake hands or great the interview panel politely. In many cases the interview panel will introduce themselves but if they don’t make sure you do.

Ask questions

Do not be afraid to ask questions of the interview panel about the job, the company, the conditions, and the culture. People love to speak about themselves and their company. If the panel members are talking it is less you have to say and also helps to build the rapport between you and the panel members.

Use personal examples

When answering the questions always use personal examples in every time. This shows not only that you understand the question but also have the skills and experience they are looking for. Keep your answers short but always ask if you have covered the answer in enough detail.

Be Remembered

I was reading something today in preparation for this article and one writer made the comment to say something that the panel would remember you by. Something that is completely out of the norm, something that will stick in the minds of the panel.  As a personal example, “I recently came back from trekking in Nepal and was amazed by the beauty of the country and reliance of the people. I spoke with a couple of GIS professionals there who despite the hardships are using GIS technology to help their country grow.” This sort of example people will remember as it is not somewhere that many people go.

Is the job interview more about your skills or the relationship?


I trust you find this information helpful


Dean Howell

Founder and CEO Geospatial Connect

Flying and Cartography – what do they have in common?


Flying and Cartography – what do they have in common?

I have been a cartographer for over 25 years and have had my private pilot’s licence for much of that time. The view of the pilot and the view of the cartographer are very similar. We are both looking down on the earth from a great height, trying to visually interpret what is on the ground and how it all connects together on our map. The order in which we, the pilot and cartographer, do things is often very similar, in that we are looking at the earth to transfer or locate the information onto or on our map.

The way our brain interprets the information can be different from person to person and from situation to situation. The pilot is using the visual information to navigate from A to B while the cartographer is trying to represent what is on the ground so the users of the map can do the same as the pilot, get from A to B. The symbology used by one cartographer may be great for their map but be totally inappropriate for others.

Flying and Cartography – what do they have in common?

If a pilot makes an error in the interpretation between their map and what they see on the ground, the consequences could be dire.  If you think about it, if the cartography interprets what is on the ground incorrectly and depicts it on the map wrongly, the consequences could be dire as well. There have been many reported incidents of GPS navigation devices sending unwitting tourists on a trip they did not need to have, the same can be said for what the cartographer puts on their map, how it is displayed and the symbology used.

The way aeronautical charts have been put together have remained largely unchanged for a long time, although they are updated on a very regular basis to ensure that pilots are using the latest information available.  On the other hand many standard topographic maps are only updated when needed. Many people assume what they are viewing is up-to-date, both in a digital view and a hard copy. As soon as any data is published it is out of date and it is up to the user to ensure the maps they are using are fit for purpose. We have all become reliant on navigation tools using Goggle Maps or similar but have you stopped to take note of when it was last updated.

More and more pilots are taking advantage of technology i.e. GPS devices with moving maps. I am certainly one who likes technology both as a cartographer and a pilot, but in both vocations we need to be aware not to place too much reliance on the technology. It is mandatory for a pilot to know how to navigate without the use of technology, just in case it fails. It is also my opinion that cartographers of today need to know the underlying reasons behind maps and the way we put them together.

Stop and take a few minutes to understand the maps you are using and why you are using them and what the intention of the map is. If it is not fit for the purpose you are about to use it, then maybe think twice, especially if you are about to take off at your local aerodrome.

Flying and Cartography – what do they have in common?

I trust you find this information helpful.

Dean Howell
Dean Howell

Founder and CEO Geospatial Connect

What four things do map projections distort?


What four things do map projections distort?

There are four basic characteristics of a map that are distorted to some degree, depending on the map projection used. These characteristics include distance, direction, shape, and area.

My article is not to discuss the benefits of map projections but to look at how technology is contributing to skills and knowledge being lost.

What four things do map projections distort?

As a cartographer with over 25 years experience in the GeoSpatial Industry, I guess I have a slightly more critical eye when I see maps that are produced these days. It makes me cringe when I see maps that are missing some essential items like a scale, north point, legends, projection information or title. It is so easy these days to just press the ‘print’ button and have the software spit out the map. It may portray the data in the way the ‘cartographer‘ indented but it looses basic usability outside  the original production when it does not have these basic elements.

Are these basic elements being lost because it does not matter anymore or is it too easy to just rely on the technology and therefore too easy to overlook the basic elements. I feel it is more about the technology, although I do see there appears to be less importance placed on some of these at some levels of education.

Technology has become more than a tool to help us but more and more a tool to do the work for us. How many of you rely on ‘spell checker’ or ‘predictive text’ to correct spelling or grammatical errors? I know I do and my spelling has suffered at the hands of technology. I look at my children’s homework and am often amazed at the poor spelling and abbreviated words. How much more effort is to type ‘great’ as opposed to  ’GR8′?

This sort of approach has crept into the ‘cartographers’ of today. Many maps are produced without really asking the question; “What is my final aim for the map?” and “Why was the original data produced?” Many data providers capture and store data that is useful on a statewide basis but if you are producing a local area map, maybe the data needs to be reprojected. Maybe the data was captured at 1:1,000,000 but you are producing a map at 1:50,000.

What was the original purpose of the data you are using for your maps? Have you read the metadata associated with your data, or did it even come with metadata. Too often I see data being used in a way that it was not intended. This maybe due to scale, symbology, attributes or just poor representation.  There is a saying “garbage in – garbage out” and this is very true when it come to maps. Just because your GIS software can symbolise your data in a certain way, is this really enhancing or degrading the original data.

Before ‘computer assisted cartography” each map was produced for a specific purpose and the cartographer would know about the source of the information and why they were producing the maps. Many maps were a work of art and the essential map elements were there to make it useful to the end users. I am truly amazed looking back at the maps produced by the early explorers, like Captain James Cook who mapped Australia over 200 years ago. They mapped the coastline from their ships using what we might called primitive tools but it was amazing how accurate they were. Today we just pull up the latest satellite image, assuming that it has been rectified correctly and is fit for purpose.

Rather than just pressing the ‘print’ button, ask yourself is that map useful to the end user and have I used data fit for purpose. Know why you are producing the map, know why the data was captured. Take the time to bring out the cartographer in yourself.

What four things do map projections distort?

I trust you find this information helpful.

Dean Howell
Dean Howell

Founder and CEO Geospatial Connect
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Working in Australia


Working in Australia


I have been lucky enough in my GIS career to work across the globe on a range of GIS related projects but the key underlying factor in all of these was being sponsored by or assisted by local organisations. It is not a matter of just picking a country and saying I want to work there, you need to find out the requirements for being able to do so and working in Australia is no different.

For over 10 years I ran GISjobs Australia, a leader in recruitment for the GIS industry in Australia, and by far the most common questions I got asked was “How can I work in Australia?”

There is not a single answer to this question as it relays on a range of factors. Factors like your age, qualifications, country, marital status, how long you want to work in Australia and more. I do not plan on providing a comprehensive solution here but just a guide for you to get the information you might be seeking for your specific situation.

Work Permits / Visas


Working in Australia in all cases starts with a work permit / visa, whether that is provided by a sponsoring employer or one that you obtain through the Australian Embassy closest to you.  The Department of Immigration in Australia treats each case one by one and unfortunately it is not a quick process. I know people where the visa process has taken two or more years be approved. The longer you want to stay, generally, the longer the process will take.


Type of Work Permits / Visas


There are many options for people wanting to come to Australia to live and or work. The following list is directly from the Department of Immigration website –

  • Professionals and other skilled workers seeking work or business in Australia
  • People moving permanently to Australia or returning from overseas
  • Tourists, working holiday, people transiting, visiting family or friends, or visiting for business or an event
  • People studying or seeking study, training, or skills development in Australia
  • Education agents and providers
  • Employers who sponsor skilled people to work in Australia
  • Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian programs


 Working in Australia

Surveyors and Spatial Scientists


One great thing for GeoSpatial Industry Professional is that the Australian Government recognises our skills as part of the “General Skilled Migration program”. More information on the specifics of this category can be found at Unit Group 2322 – Surveyors and Spatial Scientists

“Applicants in this occupation may be eligible for skilled migration under the following programs: Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), Points Based Skilled Migration visa, Temporary Business (Long Stay) (Subclass 457).

Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186)
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187)
SkillSelect (Points Based Skilled Migration visa)
Temporary Business (Long Stay) – Standard Business Sponsorship (Subclass 457)

A skills assessment is only required for certain visa subclasses in the skilled migration program. Please check whether a skills assessment is required for the visa subclass you want to apply for before contacting the relevant assessing authority.

Under the General Skilled Migration program, some occupations may only be available for state or territory government agency nomination. For a complete list of occupations, refer to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

See: Skilled Occupation Lists (Formerly Known as Form 1121i)


Visa Wizard


If you would like find out more about working in Australia there is a visa wizard on the Australian Immigration website. The Visa Wizard can help you find the Australian visa most likely to meet your specific circumstances.


Where to from Here


This is only the start of the process for working in Australia. Do not expect that it will be a quick process. If you want to work in Australia, start the process as early as possible; seek advice from the Australian Embassy closest to you or through the Immigration web site and do not give up.

 Working in Australia

I trust you find this information helpful.

Dean Howell
Dean Howell

Founder and CEO Geospatial Connect