Women In GIS: Preetha Pulusani

March 8, 2000

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What is your position in your company? For how long have you been at this company?

I am executive vice president for the Mapping/GIS business unit at Intergraph Corporation and am in my 20th year at the company.I often refer to my career in GIS as a lucky circumstance and accident.

Preetha Pulusani
My background is in computer science, and during my last undergraduate semester I found an entry-level position as a software analyst in a company called M&S Computing.Six months after I joined the company, the name was changed to Intergraph.I was introduced to maps on my first day at work and have not left this environment since.

One of my first development projects was to convert grids to vector maps and vice versa.After about ten years in development, in designing and developing software to managing commercial products, I transitioned into marketing.My marketing role has evolved to business management where I am managing a P&L center and am responsible for the profitability and growth of the worldwide Mapping/GIS business at Intergraph.Due to our history, the people at Intergraph are rich in geospatial knowledge and skills in both the technology and the application arenas, and I continue to be thankful for my lucky accident.

What is your background?

I have an undergraduate degree in accounting with a minor in computer science from Alabama A&M University.This background allowed me to start my career in programming at Intergraph.Subsequently, I earned my master's degree in computer science with a minor in business administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.My mapping and GIS training was strictly on the job.And what a ride it has been!

Would you recommend GIS to other women?

I highly recommend this field to women.It is interesting and global, provides a wide array of applications from which to choose, and is expanding rapidly.GIS is a science and technology that often gets confused with applications or industries.I see this science applied effectively all over the world today, but I think we have not seen its true value yet.There are exciting, emerging markets that deal with the marriage of GIS with the Internet, and there are the more traditional GIS applications at all levels of government and private enterprise.So the choices are enormous.

The first step for anyone interested in working with GIS is to do some research into the several ways that the science can be applied and its potential.Then, match their interest in the application area with potential opportunities.These days it's rare for a university not to offer a GIS program, whether it is associated with the engineering, geography, computer science, or urban planning department, to name just a few.

What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Careerwise, I am proud of the strategy that has been conceived and is on its way to being implemented for Intergraph's next-generation GIS, GeoMedia.Last year, we saw GeoMedia grow 85 percent in the worldwide marketplace.What is most gratifying is when we hear what our customers say about the technology.It's the first truly open GIS of its kind in the market.And, that's not a quote from Intergraph.

What does your typical day or week look like?

Intergraph is a global company that is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama.My business unit supplies products to Intergraph subsidiaries and distributors around the world.A day or a week is fairly evenly split between strategic product issues and marketing/sales issues.Strategic product issues originate at headquarters and are generally addressed in brainstorming sessions and other meetings.The marketing/sales issues usually originate outside headquarters and are resolved often with e-mail.Our increase in cost savings and productivity due to e-mail and the Internet are immense.I'm not sure how we worked effectively before!

Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate?

GIS is an exciting technology! It can be used in so many different applications and in so many different industries.It is a catalyst for better decision-making and better information.Everything is located somewhere.And a picture, in this case a map, is worth a thousand words.In fact, as I mentioned before, I don't believe we have realized the full potential of GIS.

Just this week, I was briefed about a very unique application that the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.has undertaken with our GeoMedia GIS product.The Smithsonian Department of Anthropology is designing a pathology recording system that will allow them to catalog bones as they discover them in the field.Once the bones are recorded the scientists can run queries on the skeletons that they have cataloged.Questions can then be asked about the data using criteria such as age, percentage of whole skeletons found, diseases, and cause of death.

Our customer believes that most of his colleagues in other educational institutions would be extremely interested in this creative application.Geospatially-enabled anthropology! I can honestly say that this was one application we really did not predict when we conceived GeoMedia.But, if the shoe fits...So, the excitement continues for us to explore, discover, and invent GIS applications.

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

The "next thing," which I see already happening, is the emergence and importance of the Internet in GIS application.The "next thing," which people in the industry have been predicting for a while, is the use of GIS by people who don't need to understand the technology or the science.This broadens the user base and deepens the importance of GIS.It gives more emphasis to accuracy, semantics, reliability, and control of geographic information.It opens the world to new opportunities, applications, and possibilities.

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

It was a long while back, but I suppose I wanted to be an accountant, since I obtained my undergraduate degree in accounting.Actually, it was my love for numbers and math that propelled me towards that domain.Am I glad I didn't stick with it!

Email: prpulusa@ingr.com
URL: www.intergraph.com/gis/


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