Marie-Josee Proulx: CEO of Intelli3
We would like to introduce an industry professional, Marie-Josee Proulx. She is currently the CEO of Intelli3 in Quebec.
GoGeomatics Canada: Welcome Marie-Josée. Could you begin by telling us how you entered the industry? Where did you receive your formal education?
Marie-Josee Proulx: I was first interested in working outdoors in land surveying but quickly redirected my interest in the domain combining Information technology and spatial information. I then studied at Laval University in geomatic sciences where I obtained a Bachelor degree. After a student trainee program at the City of Sherbrooke, my interest for GIS grew. This brought me to work for the geomatic sciences lab at Laval University during my studies for a master degree in spatial database management.
GoGeomatics Canada: What were your main tasks during your time at the Center for Research in Geomatics at Laval University? What was your most intensive project throughout your career with them?
Marie-Josee Proulx: Following the completion of my Masters Degree, I quickly got involved as a research assistant in database modeling projects for different Quebec Government departments. I was also supervising graduating students, writing scientific papers and helping the GIS lab assistant. In the last five years, I was a project manager for the NSERC industrial chair involving 9 partners from the private and public sectors. It is during this period that our research team, directed by Dr Yvan Bedard, developed some of the fundamental concepts supporting SOLAP technology which is commercialized today by Intelli3 under the name Map4Decision. Through the development of several prototypes and pilot projects on spatial datawarehouses, we have laid the conceptual and technical foundations of Spatial BI decision support tools.
GoGeomatics Canada: I know that you worked in spatial databases for almost 15 years prior to your position as CEO at Intelli3. What instigated the change?
Marie-Josee Proulx: At the onset, I was reviewing my accomplishments and developing a new set of career objectives – I wanted to go beyond what I had done during my years at the Geomatics Research Center. I would say it was a series of events that brought on the change, not one that I can specifically pinpoint. The results of the different projects in the Geomatics Chair had to be divulged and commercialized. Our team of Scientifics and Professionals were invited to pursue the development of our research but on the private sector side, and exercise strategic and managerial duties, but no one really volunteered to take the lead. On my end, I wanted to evolve and develop new skill sets. So instead of trying to recruit a general manager or a CEO for what would become our business, I offered to take the lead and to surround myself with generous and experienced people who would help me to develop the required skills. A good business coach, business mentor and a good management team can help an entrepreneur in the making develop the necessary skills to start a company.
GoGeomatics Canada: How have you seen the industry change throughout your careers in GIS? Where do you see the biggest gap or shortcoming in our field of work?
Marie-Josee Proulx: The first project I was responsible for in my career required me to structure databases for storing land surveying documentation. The goal was to automate what was traditionally stored in cases and drawers. Ultimately, the objective was to store the information and be able to quickly query that information. Today’s projects are significantly more ambitious, the technologies used are various, but the objective keeps pushing us to deliver solutions to query the information faster and faster. We now want to value data for analysis by cross-referencing it with other data types and with external data. To conclude this point, we are working to help our clients to use their data to keep their competitive advantage by developing new offerings or identifying trends.
GoGeomatics Canada: How has being a female in the industry shaped and contributed to your progress and accomplishments?
Marie-Josee Proulx: In a domain like geomatics where technical knowledge prevails, competency leads, these aspects are quickly evaluated. Intelligence, know-how and good listening abilities can be expressed differently by a man or a woman, and prompt different approaches to problem solving. But in the end, the important factor is that the individual has to be able, in his or her own way, to contribute to the evolution of the knowledge and to the resolution of the problems.
GoGeomatics Canada: How do you tackle being a CEO and a Geospatial Decisional Analyst at the same time?
Marie-Josee Proulx: My interest for my domain of expertise and the knowledge update requirements of this domain force me to always remain involved in projects. This forces me to share my time between managing the company and delivering projects for clients. As I said earlier, since I am surrounded by a good team, some administrative or commercialization tasks can be delegated which allows me to address focus on essential managerial or delivery duties.
GoGeomatics Canada: April will mark your four-year anniversary at Intelli3. What has been the biggest change that you have noticed throughout this time? What do you foresee for your company in the future?
Marie-Josee Proulx: Like most start-ups companies, the addition of years in business brings better vision and better organisational structure. Also, we were able to add competencies to our initial team. The last few years also allowed us to better evaluate the market, short and medium term potential, and needs. Interest for location intelligence grows consistently in markets that did not traditionally use geospatial data like risk management, insurance and retail. These wave of changes is a good sign for businesses in the geospatial market that can help these companies be more competitive or offer new services.
Thank you Marie-Josée for taking the time to speak with us. We appreciate your insight into the industry and wish you all the best.