Find innovative solutions to customers’ business challenges with a career in GIS – TechCentral.ie
Rob Morrison explains ESRI Ireland’s roadmap for success
In association with Esri Ireland
Esri is the world’s leading location intelligence organisation and market leader in geographic information systems (GIS) software, a global market estimated to be worth $10.1 billion. Since 2002, Esri Ireland has been the point of presence for Esri on the island of Ireland, providing Irish GIS users with access to not only Esri’s ArcGIS system of products, but also a highly skilled team of consultants. Since those early days, Esri Ireland has grown from a team of just of five employees based in a modest office, to today’s standing as an officially recognised Great Place to Work with 80 employees located throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, all enjoying a fully flexible work-from-home policy.
In recent years, location intelligence and GIS have become ubiquitous. Once a niche industry, GIS is now mainstream, driven by technologies such as Esri’s ArcGIS Online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, the proliferation of GPS-enabled smart devices, and a growing realisation amongst businesses that location matters. When you couple that with exciting advances in technology which facilitate fast data capture, automation and spatial Big Data processing, such as drones, LIDAR, augmented reality, and machine learning/artificial intelligence, a career in GIS has never been more exciting or rewarding.
Within Esri Ireland, our professional services (PS) team is working at the forefront of these advances, implementing innovative solutions built upon the Esri system. This team applies its knowledge, expertise and experience to solving customers’ business challenges, allowing them to leverage the full power of GIS within their organisations to deliver on their business goals. The team has been growing steadily year-on-year since our inception and continues to grow.
This growth presents Esri Ireland with challenges that inspire us to adapt and innovate. It also raises a number of questions, such as how are we structured to ensure we can service the market and align with technical advancements? How do we provide fulfilling long-term careers for our team? How do we create an environment where people want to work with us and stay with us?
These are questions that we are continually trying to address and, as a result, our PS Career Path has evolved over the years to reflect our growth, changes in the GIS industry, our market and the people we have working with us. As a result, the scope and variety of roles available within PS is quite large, with all roles providing scope for career learning and growth.
To fully describe the range of responsibility within each role would be very challenging, however, at a high level, consultants and senior consultants work under the direction of lead consultants to configure, develop and deploy solutions for customers using Esri’s desktop, enterprise or SaaS products, and application programming interfaces.
Lead consultants work alongside solution architects to assign work items and to ensure that all deliverables are completed to current best practice and to provide technical expertise to the project team.
Solution architects work with customers on geospatial strategy, architecting robust systems to deliver against complex business requirements. They take a set of requirements provided by the customer and turn those requirements into a solution design and estimate of effort to complete. They then provide technical governance on projects.
GIS project managers manage our larger projects and work alongside a project team to provide project governance and ensure any project runs smoothly and delivers against the three project elements of scope, time, and budget.
Customer success managers (CSMs) manage the customer relationship from a PS perspective. They work with customers to ensure they are getting the most out of their investment in ArcGIS by looking for opportunities to grow its uses. CSMs also manage smaller projects.
However, our roles are not purely GIS-based and within the GIS industry, there is an increasing need for more specialised IT knowledge too. We have recently added a managed services division to our PS department in response to the needs of our customers. Our current motivation around recruiting is more technology led, as Esri increases its offering in the SaaS environment and as this is adopted by customers.
Whilst everyone at Esri Ireland loves GIS and are passionate about using geography to improve the world around us, our consultants also need a basic understanding of computer science and general IT such as networking principles, web development, cloud computing, and network security.
Esri Ireland also offers a graduate programme for students and recent grads who want to turn their education into a rewarding career. Graduates are provided with the chance to experience a wide range of departments, enjoy a structured learning programme and start working directly with our customers and solutions.
In the face of a competitive job market, it is not only important to attract the right talent, but it’s also crucial to retain that talent. At Esri Ireland, our six Growth Aspiration Statements (Build Trust, Do Right by Each Other, Learn & Grow, Embrace Belonging, Live Green & Give Back, and Make a Difference) reflect our belief that success will come if the individuals within the company are successful, and this is key to ensuring a high level of employee retention.
We take professional development seriously and we have a robust framework called Helping People Succeed (HPS), which covers employee engagement, performance, and development to ensure that our people excel in their roles.
Our performance appraisal programme is highly weighted around behaviours to convey that values are lived and not just professed. We believe giving and receiving feedback on performance is important and encourage everyone to provide feedback as often as possible. We are introducing coaching conversations this year and all employees will have access to professionally trained and accredited coaches to allow them to achieve their personal best, helping them go in the direction they want to go, and to produce the results they want in their professional lives.
All employees are given 12 days training a year and they have access to the full range of Esri’s instructor-led training as well as access to the Esri online Training Academy. We also provide opportunities for and encourage staff to attain certification in not only Esri products, but also other various related technologies such as Microsoft DevOps, cloud computing, project management, and software development to name but a few.
In addition, we operate internal professional development programmes for employees to progress between roles. At the end of the programme, employees who successfully meet the exit criteria automatically transition into the new role. The intention is to equip the employee with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful within their new position and allow them to tackle the challenges head on.
Recruiting is challenging but exciting. We love working with candidates throughout our interview process and enjoy meeting with and talking to GIS professionals from all walks of life. However, successful recruitment is just the start of the journey. By providing employees with stimulating and innovative work, job satisfaction, world class training, and professional and personal growth opportunities, we hope that employees can fulfil their career aspirations with us.
This is our sixth year of certification as a Great Place to Work and we’re proud that this ethos is firmly embedded in our culture, hearts and minds; it’s a barometer for how we’re doing and a framework for how we continue to invest in our people and our business. All of these combined are what make Esri Ireland truly a ‘Great Place to Work’.
For any open opportunities and join the team: www.esri-ireland.ie
Rob Morrison is principal consultant, Esri Ireland