We continue to be fascinated by how our many colleagues in this industry came to their careers in GIS. This week, Mladen Stojic, Intergraph’s vice president of geospatial, shares his story with us.
Directions Magazine (DM): What is your position in your company and what do you do there?
Mladen Stojic (MS): At Intergraph, I manage and lead our geospatial portfolio and operations from vision and strategy through to product development and product marketing. I work with a great team of talented people who continually meet with our customers and listen to their needs and survey the market, evaluating technology trends and applications. From this dialog, we translate business requirements into tactical actions across the portfolio. This includes harvesting use cases and incorporating these into our product roadmap through to delivery, product marketing, and internal and external customer training.
DM: What accomplishments have you achieved?
MS: I joined ERDAS in the late 1990s and ultimately got involved in product management, defining the vision and product strategy for the ERDAS photogrammetry product line, including IMAGINE Orthobase and Stereo Analyst for ArcGIS. Once part of Leica Geosystems (and Hexagon), my responsibilities transitioned into a new role which included identifying and articulating a business plan for the development of our server strategy. Ultimately, this plan included several acquisitions in 2007 and the launch of ERDAS APOLLO. In my next role, I provided leadership and guidance for the ERDAS portfolio, spearheading our product management and marketing initiatives, including annualizing the product releases, implementing our new website and Web strategy, concerted product marketing and sales campaigns, and worldwide product release roadshows.
Now as part of Intergraph, I have set up a global geospatial team focused on developing the world’s best geospatial products.
DM: What challenges do you face?
MS: In a society that is now heavily vested and wired to the Internet, social media and mobile technology, we are continually bombarded with a plethora of information. It is an ongoing challenge to parse and identify real information from disguised hype. This is particularly true when working on an evolving strategy and gathering market intelligence. You can easily fall into the trap of believing the hype and not recognizing real substance. At Intergraph, our approach to combat this problem is to keep in direct contact with the customer through an ongoing conversation. Ultimately, the customers know the truth about the problems they are having on a daily basis. That typically involves face-to-face social contact (not merely digital).
It is our goal to navigate beyond the traditional silos that have manifested in the geospatial industry over the past 40 years. Often, this involves breaking down those silos, and bringing change that can sometimes be misunderstood. As we all know, change also has a human component associated with it that can sometimes involve fear. Overcoming one’s fear is only possible through open communication and working together to ensure confidence and trust. As a software vendor, we want to ensure our customers and our market that they can count on us – and our history proves that we are in this for the long haul.
While we have a rich history in the industry, we also recognize that there is a new generation of users emerging with different needs. We believe that it is imperative for our industry to also be relevant to a new generation of users. We do not want to be seen merely as a niche technology that cannot escape the abbreviations, with simple directional applications. We understand the power of geography to understand our earth and make it a better place – it is our responsibility to creatively engage a new generation of potential users, bringing powerful functionality into intuitive (and configurable) applications.
DM: What was your career path to your current position?
MS: After finishing graduate school in Canada, I took a contract job using ERDAS products for research in the UK. I started at ERDAS at the end of 1996 as an application engineer, supporting the company’s international business. Given my background in photogrammetry and surveying, I worked closely with development to create a new photogrammetry team. I served as a product manager for the photogrammetry team. After releasing several photogrammetry products, I joined the enterprise and server team as the director of enterprise products. After years of growth and several acquisitions, I was promoted to the job of vice president of product management & marketing, where I managed the product portfolio and the marketing of our products. With the ERDAS integration into Intergraph, I was asked to lead our geospatial efforts, first with product marketing, training and operations, and ultimately combining this with all of our geospatial product development team.
DM: What would you like to be doing in your career in 10 years?
MS: I really enjoy the geospatial space, and I want to see the synthesis of geospatial technology and business applications for a larger consumer audience, whereby they fully embrace the technology and actually use it to make this world a better place for everyone. I would like to be a part of this evolution (and revolution). I strongly believe that Hexagon has all the ingredients in its arsenal to ignite this revolution. We have the people, technology and strategic vision – and leadership to make it happen. I’d like to continue to be an agent of change in our industry. What this means from a career perspective is hard to say, but we live in a dynamic world and it’s always exciting.
DM: What are your personal interests and hobbies?
MS: I grew up in Canada, so I quickly developed a passion for skiing as a kid. My family is Croatian, so naturally soccer is in my DNA, with playing and following European soccer being something I enjoy. The kid in me still loves comic books (not digital) – and everything that goes with them – the smell of old issues, the feel, the art and the excitement of the stories themselves, especially Marvel books from the ‘60s and ‘70s (Amazing Spider-Man, Dare Devil, X-Men…I’m a huge fan of John Byrne and Frank Miller). I also like learning about military history and leaders. Looking ahead, my next big adventures are to be a greenhorn on the “Deadliest Catch” (ideally on the Northwestern), to start a hobby farm with my family and to own, operate and manage a vineyard and olive business along the beautiful Croatian coastline.