Diversity in Leadership: GoGeomatics Interview with Aurora Consulting Founder, Bilyana Anicic
Diversity enhances more than just innovation and creativity.
To show the importance of diversity, GoGeomatics has created a series highlighting diversity leadership in the Canadian Geomatics community. GoGeomatics was able to interview Bilyana Anicic of Aurora Consulting as part of the Diversity in Leadership series.
GoGeomatics: What made you interested in the career you have today?
Bilyana: I started on the IT side of things and became passionate about Geomatics and leveraging location as the interoperability “glue” for Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) after working on an Automated Frequency Management System project. Encouraged by my colleagues Chris DeJager and Chris Innes at AMEC Earth and Environmental, now WSP Global, I first learned the power of Geospatial. I found a calling in building clients’ success and dedication to go “above and beyond” on clients’ behalf.
GoGeomatics: Where did you go to school, and where do you live now?
Bilyana: I attended the University of Sarajevo (Computer Science) and different IT programs, achieving several diplomas and certificates, including the Digital Transformation Certificate from MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (From AI to IoT, Cloud, Blockchain and Cybersecurity).
I have had a lifetime of learning (languages, programming languages, design thinking, writing for technical professionals, technology courses and certifications, including Microsoft, TOGAF, etc.). I live in Ottawa.
GoGeomatics: What challenges did you face to get to where you are now, and how did you overcome them?
Bilyana: Challenges/opportunities I faced include the ability to communicate in terms that both IT and non-IT stakeholders can understand. I needed to work harder and smarter, having English as a third language, and as a young woman in the IT profession toward overcoming bias and gender gaps.
GoGeomatics: How did you get involved in GeoIgnite and GoGeomatics?
Bilyana: I had the privilege of presenting on Digital Transformation at the GoGeomatics meetup in Ottawa in 2018. The goal was to inspire more women to join the Geomatics profession.
- Written an article for GoGeomatics magazine titled Leading in times of disruption: Canada’s geospatial past, present and future, followed by several others.
- Was invited by Jon Murphy to join the organizing committee of the inaugural GeoIgnite conference in 2019.
- Led the conference stream “Diversity in Leadership” and moderated the diverse Leadership panel with Dr. Nadine Alameh, CEO of OGC, Amina Diaz, Dave Acco, and David Gachuche.
- Presented to Dr. Nadine Alameh – 2019 Recipient of Diversity in Leadership Award – GoGeomatics
- Led Diversity and Leadership conference stream and participated as both moderator and panellist in three subsequent GeoIgnite Conferences (2020, 2021, 2022)
GoGeomatics: When putting together the Diversity Leadership Program for GeoIgnite, what was your motivation, and what did you want people to take away from experience?
Bilyana: My motivation and what I wanted to share with the participants were twofold:
- Share the evidence that “Diversity in the workplace is good for business” based on the Study: Workplace diversity can help the bottom line | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Provide a platform for diverse individuals in leadership roles to share their journeys to encourage, inspire and motivate those just starting theirs.
GoGeomatics: Besides putting together the program, you participated in GeoIgnite 2022’s “Diversity in Leadership” Panel discussion. What did this mean to you, and what did you take away from the experience?
Bilyana: Conversing with my fellow panellists and learning through the three years at the GeoIgnite Diversity in Leadership conferences, I think it’s time for the conversation around inclusion and diversity to take a people-centric approach. It’s not just about the numbers — it’s about the people. Storytelling, one of the universal human experiences, gives us a rare chance to look through new lenses. These stories told from a human perspective can inspire and motivate people from all walks of life to participate in the workplace as equal partners that bring diverse opinions that are good for business. Storytelling, design thinking and diversity can also be transferable to the sustainability of our planet.
GoGeomatics: What advice can you give those looking to get into a similar career?
Bilyana: As an Enterprise Architect, I would advise them to be prepared for a diverse learning journey that should include data and technology, but also empathy, design thinking and storytelling.
GoGeomatics: Can I ask you about your consulting company http://www.auroraconsulting.ca/? How did you come to be the founder of the company? Who inspired you?
Bilyana: My father and clients inspired me to start my own company. The company I was employed with changed focus about ten years ago, and the segment where we were helping our Geospatial clients became vacant. With their support and our clients’ support, I could continue to serve them as an independent consultant.
GoGeomatics: Any advice for women who want to start their own consulting business?
Bilyana: My advice for women who want to start their own consulting business is to use their diversity as a superpower. Good communication, empathy, people-centric focus, and storytelling are all superpowers that can serve them well. Technical abilities are important, but as technologies changes and consulting becomes a life-learning journey, the importance of previously-mentioned soft skills can become their advantage. Storytelling, design thinking and diversity are good for business and can also be good for solving even bigger problems our society faces, including the sustainability of our planet.
GoGeomatics wishes to give Bilyana Anicic a heartfelt thank you for her time and participation.