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?
Twyla McDermott (TM): I’m the GIS strategic technology planner at the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. My biggest challenge is keeping the GIS community motivated toward achieving the vision and promise of enterprise GIS with limited resources. My greatest accomplishment is helping junior staff grow in their careers. I have watched many young professionals move into prestigious and fulfilling positions. There is no greater achievement!
DM: What was your career path to your current position?
TM: It all began when I was 12 and picked up a rock in North Dakota. Fast-forward to my first job as an E-911 coordinator in 1986 where my job was to map the county and assign addresses. I started that job the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded—symbolic in many ways.
From the E-911 position, I transitioned into a role to implement one of the first multi-jurisdictional GIS programs in the U.S., which included a partnership with five local governments.
After eight years in local government, I saw the huge potential of GIS in the private sector and made a move to a major landscape architecture and engineering company where I started a GIS practice. After tiring of being in the air on any unexpected day, I accepted a GIS research position with the largest hospital and physician network system in the Carolinas. My job was to apply spatial technology for health services research and to provide business intelligence for business expansion. At the same time that I held this position, I started a business that provided research, GIS services and project management services for a firm that developed regional metropolitan strategic plans. The business required my full-time commitment in 2000. While deeply involved in metropolitan regional research, I was contacted by the city of Charlotte to manage its GIS. The GIS was very fragmented and decentralized so I worked with a team to develop the city’s first GIS strategic plan which resulted in an enterprise GIS across the 14 business units. Because of the success of the program, I was restructured into my current role as GIS strategist and program manager for the city.
DM: What would you like to be doing in your career in 10 years?
TM: Pouring wine for others to enjoy in a wine bar, complete with maps of the appellations, terrain and regions.
DM: What are you personal interests and hobbies?
TM: Running, ceramics, cycling, kayaking and Kriya yoga
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