Directions Magazine (DM): What is your position in your company and what do you do there? What challenges do you face? What accomplishments have you achieved?
Aaron Kreag (AK) [Photo at right: Aaron with his wife]: I am currently the director of Strategic Intelligence, Analytics and GIS for ENEXP. I initially started here consulting and I wear about six hats. The responsibilities may be too long to list but I will give it a shot. I am responsible for the design, construction and management of a corporate intelligence system, data management and analysis, the majority of cartographic services, GIS, Web mapping, oil and gas IT/IS systems and integration, the collection, validation, fusion, study, analysis, visualization or dissemination of a vast assortment of data, applying existing methods and building new tools or processes to exploit existing information and extract previously unknown value from said information.
In a lot of ways my job can be described as providing answers to posed questions and preparing answers to questions not yet known or posed by the team. I am also tasked with making sure all our decisions regarding data, hardware, software, technology, etc. are made with a clear goal and objective, that the systems can be leveraged and integrated, and that we are developing, or using best practice solutions to address business problems and are not wasting time, effort, or most importantly, MONEY.
DM: What was your career path to your current position?
AK: My career path has been a bit unusual. In the early ‘90s I joined the Army and became a combat medic/paramedic and a couple years later ended up having the opportunity to become an (All-Source) military intelligence analyst. This expanded into cartography, imagery analysis, counter intel and some other things. I studied foreign policy and thought I wanted to retire from the military.
Eventually things changed and after eight years I wanted to try my hand outside of the military. In 2003, I had the opportunity to start a business and do a variety of work overseas that included mission planning, intelligence analysis, route assessments, etc. I used a variety of skill sets in this endeavor. In 2006, I came home, wrapped up a degree in geography from the University of North Texas and started consulting with a variety of organizations. While I did make maps and use GIS daily, the bulk of this work was focused on predictive analytics, multi-dimensional analysis, site selection and market analysis. I worked on projects and built models that focused on the prediction of the time and location of 911 emergency requests and the optimal siting of emergency medical helicopters. This work coincided well with my past experience as a medic. I also worked with some local retail outlets on site selection projects.
In 2007, I was approached by a small oil and gas company and was asked to build a GIS and department as well as migrate to new applications and integrate the systems and data. This was a great opportunity and experience. I found the petroleum industry to be a fit. There was, and is, a need for our skill set and in many ways there is a great deal of room for entrepreneurial spirits, those with progressive ideas and an abundance of self-motivation. I moved on to a large independent oil and gas company where I built an enterprise GIS and department, added enterprise data management and Web mapping capabilities, expanded the integration of GIS into multiple areas of the organization and solidified the long-term inclusion of GIS into corporate decision making processes.
I became involved with the Esri Petroleum User Group, presented at conferences, and currently co-chair the Technical Committee. I am now also on the North Texas Petroleum User Group Committee. I expanded a bit into more of an IT centric role with data architecture, master data management, spatial databases, Web mapping technology and systems integration. I ultimately ended up being recruited by the owner of my current company. This seems like my most ideal fit as I get to leverage all of my past experience, education and skill sets in an effort to mitigate risk, improve efficiencies and technological capabilities, help bridge the gap between data – information – and knowledge, bridge the gap between potential silos of information, provide data visualization and integration, enhance the decision support process, and add overall value to this dynamic company.
DM: What would you like to be doing in your career in 10 years?
AK: Honestly, I have no idea. I am not sure about other people but for me, plans have never worked. The five-year plan, the 10-year plan, it never works out. Things change, people change, the world and technology are always evolving. It is impossible for me to put my finger on the pulse of what my life or career will look like in 10 years. When I showed up at boot camp 20 years ago I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be doing what I am doing today.
I can say that in 10 years I still want to be part of a dynamic, intelligent and progressive team, pushing the envelope, challenging each other, supporting each other and always doing things right the first time. I want to still be adding value to the group and organization and I want to do it with the best intentions, the strongest of character and the best heart. At the end of the day I don’t want to have any regrets and I want the people around me to always call me their friend because in the end we never seem to remember how well someone writes code, it’s always how they lived.
DM: What are your personal interests and hobbies?
AK: Aside from my career, I am married and have two awesome kids so my family takes up the rest of my time and energy. I do enjoy traveling, learning, growing, politics, socializing, Starbucks, and a good filet mignon, and if I have time, skiing, scuba and motorcycles.