Women in GIS: Gillian Kendrick

December 1, 1999

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What is your position at Smallworld?
My current position at Smallworld is 'Head of Global Strategy' for the Communications (i.e.Telecoms) division.Basically I work alongside the head of the division and set the overall, marketing, product, channel and partnership strategies for the group.

Gillian Kendrick
Smallworld is the company which brought me into GIS.I have worked at Smallworld twice.I first joined back in 1990 as one of the first employees.My role at that time was mainly technical and I worked as one of the chief technical resources for around 4 years.During this time, I helped build the basic analysis and graphics elements of the products, and then moved into developing application development tools.

I rejoined the company in 1995 to work in corporate development.The aim of this was to look into new markets and applications where GIS could be used.Very much the thinking behind this role was that as GIS moved into the mainstream, Smallworld wanted to create new high value products based around GIS technology.As Smallworld moved into the applications products markets, I took over marketing responsibilities for the vertical applications, and in particular the Communications, or Telecoms market.As Smallworld are re-organising into vertical structures, this role has developed into my current one.

What is your background?
I have two degrees:

  • B.Sc.- Mathematical Physics, Edinburgh University, 1980-1984
  • Ph.D.- Theoretical Physics, University of Southampton and the I.L.L.Grenoble, 1984 - 1987
After completing my doctorate, I decided that I wanted to apply my problem solving skills to the business world.I took my first job working for a CAD company in Cambridge (UK) called CIS.This was a software engineering role where I worked in a team providing 3D planning tools to model large industrial complexes.Part of this work included building an animation package to enable virtual reality exploration of designs.

Those with a knowledge of GIS history will know that Smallworld was founded by a group of ex-CIS staff.I was lucky enough to be invited to join the team.

Over the course of my working career, I have kept up my training.This has covered many technical as well as business, marketing and team building areas.

Would you recommend GIS to other women?
I would definitely recommend GIS as an area to work in.It is a dynamic area to work in, and offers great opportunities.As with most parts of the IT industry, women are under-represented at the moment, but this shouldn't deter anyone from getting involved.

There are many different ways to get involved, from the traditional GIS/geographical route, though to involvement in the markets where GIS is now used.These are now many and various, including telecoms, utilties, transport, local government, marketing, environmental etc.There is quite a cross over between people in the user community and in the product and consultancy businesses.There are also a wide variety of backgrounds amongst the people I work with, including GIS and IT graduates, engineers, mathematicians, english majors and even composers, as well as ex-customers.

What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?
This is a hard question to answer.What gives me pride in my work is when I know that I have made a difference.Helping to build the right solutions for our customers, my colleagues and partners...and as we are a public company, for our shareholders too.

Providing solutions that make a difference in the GIS market is very much a team effort too.Most recently, I have been proud to work with my colleagues in the Telecoms division to bring our new Smallworld Communications products to market.It has been very rewarding to see the difference that these products are making to our customers, helping them to run their businesses more effectively.

What does your typical day look like?
One of the things which I like about my work is that there really isn't any such thing as a typical week.I may spend a week in the office working on product planning, pulling together positioning documents and co-ordinating with my colleagues from the other divisions.The next week I may be on the road, talking with customers and partners, or perhaps speaking at a conference or participating in some standards work.

One constant though is e-mail.On average I will receive around 50 a day which always takes up a fair amount of time to deal with.

Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate?
We are living in the middle of a revolution, and this time it involves information and communication.GIS is one of the technologies which is playing a key role in this revolution, enabling people to share and understand information on a scale which is unprecedented.

What is the most important 'next thing' that will happen in GIS?
The most important next thing for GIS is that it will disappear.This is not as alarming as it sounds however.GIS will become such a fundamental component of the IT environment that people will no longer see it as a separate product, but rather an essential component of their solutions.Just like computer graphics.In the eighties people used to buy computer graphics packages, but these days they are included in almost all IT products.

We can see this transition happening already.GIS is being sold as part of outage management solutions, network planning and design applications and marketing tools.Smallworld have labelled this change SRP, spatial resource planning.Basically this describes the way in which GIS is now being used to underpin broader business applications and processes.

Before you came to GIS, what did you think career would be?
For a while it was downhill ski racing, and then academic research.My real driver though as I said before is being able to solve problems and make a difference.

URL: www.smallworld.co.uk
Email: Gillian Kendrick

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