Women in GIS: Joan Myhill, Smallworld

By Directions Staff

What is your position at Smallwold?
My position is that of Product Director of Smallworldwide.I am the director of the Core and Cross Industry Division of Smallworldwide.I am responsible for the direction, content, development, quality, training courses, delivery and marketing of all of Smallworld's GIS products.In addition to this, I work closely with our Telecommunications Division and I am responsible for the development and delivery of Smallworld's Communications products.

Joan Myhill
For how long have you been at this company? Is this the company that brought you to GIS?
I joined Smallworld in 1993.Before joining Smallworld I worked in a CAD software company in Cambridge.Smallworld is the first GIS company I have worked for.I was initially attracted to GIS as I found it to be a complex business that adds real benefit to its customer base.A major attraction to me was the wide variety of different markets that GIS can be used in, which brings with it a range of different customers and businesses to get close to.

How did you arrive at this position?
When I joined Smallworld I worked in, then managed the Telecommunications applications group that served the UK based customers.This gave me a very close understanding of the business environment that our Communications customers work in.I personally dealt directly with all of our Communications customers at that time.In 1995 I moved into the core development group of Smallworld and assumed responsibility for the Smallworld GIS product development.Working closely with the regional representatives within Smallworld and keeping abreast of the customer and market demands proved to be a most interesting and motivating opportunity.

The scope of this role grew as the Smallworld GIS product became richer and more powerful in functionality and versatility.

In 1997 I was appointed to my current postion of Product Director .I enjoy this position immensely and am pleased to be responsible for driving the direction and delivery of Smallworld's core technologies.

What is your background?
Well, I arrived in this career from an unusual background.I graduated from the City University in London with a BSc Honours Degree as an Optometrist.Following my pre-registration year in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, I qualified as a fully registered Optometrist and moved to a new post in Cambridge.I then went on to work in and subsequently manage various Optometric practices in the area between Cambridge and London .I finally went on to run my own business, visiting and providing services to many Optometric practices in the South East of England.After a number of years in this new business, I felt it was time for me to move on to other things and hence took myself off to college to study for a Masters degree in Computer Science.

Would you recommend GIS to other women?
Yes I certainly would.GIS is a wonderful blend of creativity, business management, customer interfacing and dealing with technology.Seeing customers benefit from your team's work and the variety of markets that GIS can and does give an entry into is phenomenal.If you like working with people, dealing with technology and being versatile and creative, are interested in utilities, telecommunications or other such markets, then GIS is certainly a good business for you.

How should they start?
This is an interesting question, as looking around the women that work in Smallworld today, I would say the answer is "from almost anywhere!".The key point is to look at your skills and likes and if they match those I have mentioned above, then all you need to do is to get in contact with someone in the industry and doors will open for you.Smallworld is fortunate to have people from many different backgrounds.

What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?

  • Being given the opportunity to become Product Director in a successful, dynamic company
  • Being responsible for the team that produces Smallworld's software products, products that are in production use providing business operational systems to our customers.
What does your typical day look like?
I spend a large part of my time attending meetings with internal teams, discussing directions, strategy and progress on various projects and products.I travel to other Smallworld offices around the globe on a regular basis, and spend time meeting with our customers, partners, and other organizations.Like most business people today, emails take up a growing part of my average day.I write few documents myself, but spend more time ensuring that all the areas for which I am responsible are functioning well.

My style is very interactive.I prefer to talk with people and listen to their issues, help solve problems, support people in their work and provide an environment in which people can enjoy working effectively.

Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate?
GIS touches many people's lives, whether they realise it or not.Whether people are customers of electricity companies, water companies, telecommunications companies; or shop in high street stores or use banking services, they are all likely to benefit from GIS products and services.

What is the most important thing coming to GIS?
Providing spatial integrated enterprise business solutions; moving beyond GIS to SRP (Spatial Resource Planning).

Before you came to GIS, what did you think you'd be?
At the point in my schooling where I needed to choose a career, I arrived a a short-list of three: optometry, medicine, or mathematics.I chose optometry.I wonder if I would have found my way to GIS if I had taken either of the other two options!

Email: Joan Myhill
URL: Smallworld

Women in GIS

Published Tuesday, October 19th, 1999

Written by Directions Staff

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