Women In GIS: Janie French

By Directions Staff

What is your position in your company?

My current position with Staubach Retail Services is Vice President of Research and Technology.I have been at SRS for 11 years.Yes, this is the company that brought me to GIS.I began working at SRS in 1990 as an administrative assistant.

In 1991, the company began offering demographic reports and maps through a license agreement with what was then called Equifax Marketing Decision Systems (then National Decision Systems, and now Claritas).I volunteered to add this responsibility to my job description, and supported all of our regional offices.Eventually, this became a full-time job, so I was promoted to GIS Coordinator.Long story short... my staff kept growing.I now have 6 staff members in our Dallas office and oversee research for the entire company.

What is your background? (education and training)

I received a bachelor of science degree in journalism from Ball State University in 1986.In 1997, I received a graduate certificate in GIS from the University of Texas at Dallas.My first job out of college was as regional manager for Mrs.Fields Cookies.From there, I worked for Hines Interests (a large commercial property owner).And then I came to Staubach.Along the way, I have trained in various areas of GIS, software, etc.I have spoken at a Business Geographics Conference, a Claritas Users Conference, and a PikeNet conference.

I'm the person people at Staubach come to with their GIS questions.My staff also supports the non-retail divisions of our company: corporate services, global services, industrial services, etc.These divisions are just beginning to realize the power of GIS in solving real estate problems.

Regarding the other part of my job, technology: I'm involved in any major technology initiative within The Staubach Company as it relates to Staubach Retail Services.For example, I led the team that designed and created the company's web site, extranet site and property disposition site.I represented SRS on the team that chose the company's CRM system, and I administer the system for SRS.Things like that.

What does your typical day or week look like?

I spend an average amount of time responding to e-mails.The usual stuff. I'm involved in a couple of technology groups in the company and attend meetings twice a month.This week I'm in the office all week, but next week I may be flying out to present our services to a prospective client, or present the results of our research to an existing client.I'm happy to say that my schedule is never the same!

As a manager, I spend much of my time on management issues.I also handle the research group's invoicing, marketing efforts (calling potential clients, sending out marketing packages), keeping an eye on technology, and scouring the Internet.I'm on the Internet quite a lot.And I continue to look for new data and new uses for GIS.

Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate?

GIS is exciting because we continue to find new uses for this technology, despite the fact that it's been around for a while.Fortunately, there are many more companies out there developing new tools and new data for use within GIS.Also, it's exciting to me when a client comes to us with a problem, and we are able to solve it using GIS.

What is the most important "next thing" that will happen in GIS?

Good question.The new census data is an exciting issue for us.I look forward to having new data to use within our system.I also think that nearly all GIS applications in the future will be handled solely over the Internet.People will be able to access GIS applications even on their PDAs (you're seeing some of that now, but it's not where it needs to be).

Before you came to GIS, what did you think your career would be in?

Before coming to Staubach, I thought I would eventually be working for a newspaper.When I started at Staubach as an administrative assistant, I really wasn't sure where I was headed.Luckily, the company encourages growth and an entrepreneurial mindset, and I was able to create my current position with the help of my superiors and my wonderful staff.

What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Aside from my 3 sons, of course...In the GIS field, I think I am most proud of the fabulous group of researchers I work with at SRS.They are, without a doubt, a strong, very intelligent, creative group of people who make me look good every day.Working with them, I believe SRS provides the best retail real estate research in the industry.

Would you recommend GIS to other women?

I would definitely recommend GIS to other women.In 1991, when I began using GIS (the software was actualy in DOS at the time, if you can believe that!), GIS was just beginning to become a hot topic.A few years later, it was all the rage in various industries, but you still had to explain to most people what GIS was.Now I tend to run into more and more people who know what it is, and even use it at their company.I think its applications are so valuable and are growing so fast that anyone in the GIS field will continue to be needed in the marketplace.And keep an eye out for GIS uses on the Internet.If you can specialize in that area, I think you'd really have something to offer.

Although my degree was in journalism, I would recommend a geography background to anyone interested in GIS.The people I have hired who have geography education come in the door with a good understanding of location analysis, geographic principles, and more and more of them are getting exposed to GIS while in college.If a woman can find a college or university offering GIS courses, I strongly suggest she attend.

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
URL: www.staubach.com

Read more interviews from our Women in GIS series.

Published Tuesday, July 10th, 2001

Written by Directions Staff

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