8 March, 2023

The women mapping our world: NGIS celebrates International Women's Day

International Women's Day (IWD) is a time to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. In the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), women have made significant contributions to the development and implementation of these technologies. 

In honour of IWD, we had the privilege of speaking with four inspiring women from NGIS about their experiences in the GIS industry. They shared with us what inspires them, why they enjoy working in GIS, and the women who inspire them to pursue their passions.

Lisa Dykes
Director of Products

What inspires you? 
Traits in people that I admire the most include resilience and tenacity, kindness and  caring about the world we live in. I think I am mostly inspired by people that get on with making the world a better place quietly and humbly because it is the right thing to do, not because they are looking for acknowledgement or the admiration of others. The older I get, the more impressed I am by the quiet achievers who genuinely care about doing the right thing. There are many people like that in the spatial industry.
Why do you like working in the GIS Industry?
Many people I know in the spatial industry are driven by a passion to use technology to solve the world’s biggest and most urgent environmental and social problems. I strongly resonate with that concept as well. I like working in this industry because it’s about being able to contribute back in a practical way and because the people that I work with are so passionate. It is certainly true that NGIS is a passionate, energetic company, and I was really attracted to its focus on sustainability solutions. Having like-minded people around you keeps you engaged, focused, and determined. And it’s fun. I really enjoy working at NGIS and I don’t think I would ever not want to work in this industry. 

Which woman inspires you?
Probably the woman that personifies resilience to me is Turia Pitt, bestselling author, athlete and mindset coach. Surviving against the odds and rebuilding her life was amazing to see. What a remarkable person!  I really admire her positive attitude and being able to overcome adversity with such grace and determination. She never gave up, and I think she is a role model for us all.

Brittany Dahl 
Solution Engineer 

What inspires you? 
I'm inspired by digital projects that create positive impact. I love hearing stories of initiatives that are nimble and adaptive. They put humans first, care for the environment, and utilise emerging technology that unlocks new possibilities. 

One of my favourite examples is from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia. WWF has recently deployed over $2 million in support of solutions to help reverse environmental damage. WWF has already successfully launched Leaf Relief, utilising drones to drop 40,000 seeds per day to grow two billion trees in Australia by 2030. The aim is to restore Koala habitat destroyed by past bushfires, at scale. Tree planting drones won't solve all of our problems, but they sure are a smart and tech-savvy way to meet that problem's demands with Geospatial technology!

Why do you like working in the GIS Industry?
There is a digital transformation underway - one that is more inclusive, and balances physical and digital environments. GIS is a perfect intersection of this. A balance between geography, mathematics, art, IT, and social systems. We are already using Earth Observation products to map supply chains, uncover deforestation, and improve the science, capabilities, and applications of GIS for climate change and sustainability. By combining the power of cloud computing and automated processing we are building a more holistic view of forests, water cycles, biodiversity, and the anthropogenic infrastructure that intersect our world’s systems. 

The GIS industry has such an important role to play in our collective futures.  I love that I can go home at the end of the day, knowing that I've contributed to this - even with small actions! This includes teaching our users how to make a timelapse video of Planet satellite imagery for monitoring a forest, or how to better automate their water detection algorithms in Google Earth Engine against a decade long archive of data. It's fun, exciting, and always different. 

 Which woman inspires you?
Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith inspires me. She's a talented Astrophysicist, and is the Women in STEM Ambassador for Australia. Her role is part of an Australian Government initiative to address gender inequities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She helps promote and lead initiatives such as Future You, making software (and Solutions Engineering jobs like mine), more interesting and equitable for future generations. Professor Lisa said: "Addressing inequity starts with identifying barriers and mapping those directly to solutions that remove them." You can watch her video address at the Women Science Day's 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly here - get inspired!

Alexandra Geer 
General Manager

What inspires you?
I’m always inspired when I’m part of a strong team! I’ve been working on a challenging (in a good way) project for the past two years, and I am constantly in awe of what they’re all able to achieve technically and for our client – all while balancing family and other commitments.  Sometimes I’m not quite sure how they all manage to do it.

Why do you like working in the GIS industry?
Because we are professional problem solvers and communicators – we just happen to solve these problems with spatial information and technologies. I love that geospatial continues to evolve and the value it brings is so far reaching – there is always something incredibly interesting and value-generating in the work we do. 

Which woman inspires you? 
This answer probably has much to do with the stage of life I’m in at the moment – I have two little kids, both now at school.   I’m continually inspired by the women around me who are balancing careers, families, school commitments, passions – often while putting others first and still finding the time to give back to their communities and workplaces. Luckily at NGIS, we have a culture that supports this and we have some amazing women across all our teams. I certainly couldn’t get my job done without them.

Mel Hardie 
Marketing and Communications Manager 

What inspires you? 
Working with products and services that will help companies track their sustainability goals and make the earth a better place to live, for future generations. 

Why do you like working in the GIS Industry?
It is always changing, and you are always learning new things about technology globally. I also enjoy working with the inspiring women in the GIS industry who are really making changes in the world via technology.

Which woman inspires you?
I know this sounds corny, but my mother helped my father run a merino stud breeder called  “Wallinar“ and become rural women of the year. She worked on a project to take wool from the farms and turn it into fabrics in Australia with some of the leading designers in Australia. She was also on the board of Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) in Perth and continues to inspire me with her determination.


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