GANS Mentorship Program Fostering Geospatially-Enabled Society
The Geomatics Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) has been promoting the importance and value of the geomatics sector in Nova Scotia for over 25 years. Most Nova Scotians are either involved with or use some aspect of geomatics every day, and aren’t even aware of it.
Recently, GANS launched a Geomatics Mentorship Program to help foster a geospatially-enabled society in Nova Scotia. GoGeomatics Canada reached out to Ted MacKinnon, Vice President of GANS and Chair of Communications Working Group, to learn more about the Mentorship program.
GoGeomatics: When did the mentorship program launch?
Ted MacKinnon: The program has been in the planning stages for the past year but only actually started last month. We already have several applications from participants seeking to join, and our committee is evaluating them and beginning to pair up mentors/mentees.
Applications are still being accepted, so if you are interested in participating as a Mentee or Mentor, please visit the GANS mentorship page to download the required mentorship application forms.
GoGeomatics: On your website, you explain that the mentorship program aims to address the need for leadership in the Nova Scotian geospatial community. Why is this important?
Ted MacKinnon: GANS recognizes the importance of engaging and mentoring Canada’s next-generation of leaders in the geomatics sector and has taken various actions to help guide the ever-growing geospatially-enabled society of tomorrow. Having a geospatially enabled society that can recognize the value of “Location Matters” is important to ensure the reliability of Nova Scotia’s geospatial data, and help safeguard sustainable development. With this in mind, GANS launched the Geomatics Mentorship Program, designed to ensure that professionals from the geomatics sector can co-exist with the geospatially enabled society of tomorrow.
Over the years we have recognized a need for the geomatics Sector to evolve beyond simply capturing data and delivering basic geo products, and to start being recognized for helping the geospatial community make more effective use of spatial data and applications. These days our society demands more spatial knowledge for everyday needs and as a result the geospatial community has grown and crossed over into many other sectors.
The need for more leadership within the geospatial community can be addressed through the guidance and support of younger professionals and newcomers from those already well established within the geomatics sector. To help achieve this goal, the mentorship program provides members with opportunities to get together with more established professionals to gain from their knowledge and experience. Such a partnership could also benefit more established professionals, allowing them to gain new insights and ideas from a younger geospatial generation.
Many associations in Canada often state in their membership benefits that they offer mentoring opportunities, but we believe that actions speak louder than words, so we have implemented a committee and program guidelines that we feel allow us to offer that benefit to our members.
GoGeomatics: How many mentor pairs are you hoping to set up?
Ted MacKinnon: The GANS mentorship program is relatively new and like most new volunteer-based programs, requires time and careful planning to be successful. During our first year, we are aiming at quality over quantity.
We feel that 4 to 5 pairs of mentors/mentees would be a success and allow us to carefully monitor and evaluate the program for ways to improve. Through strategic communications, we would then help others appreciate the benefits of the program and encourage more people to get involved.
GoGeomatics: What are the long-term goals of the program?
Ted MacKinnon: Long term goals of the program are to have a mechanism in place to help fill the need for more leadership within the geomatics sector and help enable the geospatial community come together under a shared vision, engaging and mentoring Canada’s next generation of leaders in the geomatics sector.
We hope that major groups or associations in other regions of the geospatial community will be able to gain from our actions and experiences by working with GANS to implement similar programs so that more Canadians in the geospatial community benefit.
GoGeomatics: Why should someone apply to become a GANS mentor?
Ted MacKinnon: Becoming a mentor is a great way to share your experience and knowledge with a younger generation of leaders in the geomatics sector. A Mentor can be anyone who is an established professional with a recognized level of experience and credibility within the geospatial community.
GoGeomatics: Why should someone apply to become a GANS mentee?
Ted MacKinnon: Competition for young professionals in the geomatics sector these days is much than ever, as more and more people turn to geography-related disciplines like GIS for career paths. To succeed in today’s job market, one needs to find new ways to set themselves apart from others.
Anyone seeking to advance and enhance their geomatics career would gain personal development, coaching and professional networking through the sharing of information, knowledge, advice and support from a geomatics mentor.
GoGeomatics: Mentors/mentees are committing 2 hrs a month to meeting with one another. What do you envision these monthly meetings being like, and will mentees have access to their mentors outside of the meetings?
Ted MacKinnon: Commitment to meet regularly between the mentor and the mentee during business hours (about 2 hours per month for 4 months) is the starting point. Availability outside of these meetings will depend on the relationship between mentor/ mentee, but due to the way we use digital communications these days, we do not see why people would not be open for communications via email.
GANS fosters geomatics within all sectors of the Nova Scotia economy through collaboration among a broad membership representing the public and private sector. We provide both professional and social events year round, have membership fees that are among the lowest in the geomatics sector and allow students to join for a nominal fee so they can take advantage of networking opportunities to use in establishing their careers. For more information about becoming a member of GANS, visit http://gans.ca.