Elise’s Journey to her Dream Job in GIS
My name is Elise White. I was born and raised on the island of New Providence, the capital of the Bahamas, better known by its main city; Nassau.
After graduating high school, I moved to Canada to pursue a BA at York University. Although I was initially undecided in what I wanted to study, I happened upon York’s GIS and Remote Sensing specialization. I absolutely fell in love with not only the capabilities of GIS at the time, but endless possibilities for expansion in the field. I realized that GIS was significantly underutilized in the Bahamas, and we so desperately needed a tool such as this. I wanted to see geospatial technology expand in the Bahamas.
After graduating, I knew that I wanted to experience various applications of GIS before I decided to return home. Therefore, I decided to stay in Canada for a few years to gain some valuable experience. My first opportunity was an internship with Bell Mobility, within the Professional Management Program of their Strategic Marketing Intelligence Unit. I did a lot of research for boundary files across Ontario, for use as guides to digitize basemaps for trade area analyses. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there as I was exposed to GIS in business applications. I was a little familiar with this application because I had done some coursework for undergrad in which we looked at trade areas for the No Frills Supermarket. I had also done my final project on a site selection analysis for Aritizia clothing store in an effort to identify their market and offer a site for expansion within the Greater Toronto Area.
While I wanted to continue my internship, I needed to find a source of income. I was blessed enough to receive a full time offer from Optech Inc. Optech is a leader in all things LiDAR and imaging survey instruments. I was hired as a LiDAR Data Processor and Customer Services Representative. We worked 12 hour shifts performing in house calibration on system data, as well as provided support to clients experiencing any data related issues. I continued to intern at Bell Mobility for a short while, as I was still enjoying the experience. However, using my days off from work to intern at Bell began to take a toll and I had to make the decision to do what was best. Optech, however, did not disappoint. I enjoyed processing and analyzing LiDAR data as it was constantly challenging while still quite intriguing. I have insatiable curiosity when it comes to anything geospatial which made this experience a good fit at the time.
After working with Optech for nearly 2 years, I found myself missing the GIS interface. While I enjoyed the Lidar remote sensing application, my plan was to gain work experience in various segments of the geospatial world. I ended up taking on an internship with GoGeomatics in the initial stages of their web mapping project. I interned remotely as part of their GIS Web Mapping team. This provided another opportunity for me to experience a different aspect in the geospatial field; a sort of background or foundation, if you will, of the processes for web mapping. I was privileged to work on the data collection and geocoding phases of the project and my area focused on Western Canada (BC and Alberta). While working this internship, another opportunity popped up for me to work full time in the Bahamas’ ‘second city’; the beautiful Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.
I accepted the offer for Senior GIS Technician at the Grand Bahama Port Authority(GBPA), which has been my current position for nearly 3 years. The GBPA serves as a quasi governmental organization consisting of a group of companies responsible for regulation, development and maintenance of 230 square miles on Grand Bahama island known as the Port Area. In the GIS department, we are responsible for the archiving of plot maps of the Port Area as well as creating, managing and consistently updating GIS data to be used in the planning, development, legal and maintenance infrastructures of the GBPA. My work primarily focuses on providing spatial context to information for the Grand Bahama Development Company(Devco) which is a subsidiary of the Port group of companies. Devco is a major real estate investment company owning approximately 70,000 acres of land within the Port Area zoned for commercial, resort and residential development. I get to perform a lot of inventory assessments, site selection and proximity analyses for various development areas of interest to investors on the island. I truly enjoy this field of study and all it has to offer; and I am looking forward to expanding my skill set to explore even more applications within this still emerging technology.