Callum Smith, Geospatial and Digital Delivery Consultant
|University:||Massey University; Auckland University of Technology|
|Degree completed:||Bachelor of Science (Geography / Geology);
Master of Science (Geospatial Science)
|Strongest Aurecon Attribute:||Unconventional Thinker|
My experience with Aurecon
I grew up in Hāwera, a small dairy farming town in the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s North Island. During my time at Hāwera High School, I found that I really liked geography and geology.
Wanting to pursue my passion, I decided to study a Bachelor of Science with a double major in geography and geology at Massey University in Palmerston North. This led to me discovering geographic information systems (GIS). Thoroughly enjoying learning about them, I decided to carry the topic through into my postgraduate Master of Science studies at the University of Auckland.
Aurecon operates across a range of markets and employs specialists in a wide variety of disciplines – one of which is geospatial science. I was fortunate enough to obtain a position in the company’s geospatial team in the Auckland office that specialises in analysing, manipulating, transforming, and visualising locational data. This can take many forms: from calculating the property impact of proposed highway designs, which will help choose the least impact option for the affected community; to generating contextual data surrounding a 3D building information model (BIM) for input into a virtual reality application.
Digital delivery is a crucial function at Aurecon. I’ve had the exciting opportunity to work on innovating and improving efficiencies across projects. It involves ensuring digital aspects of our projects run smoothly and efficiently across the board.
Recently, I worked on a New Zealand Transport Agency proposal for a light rail project to reduce congestion. I was tasked with putting together a 3D visualisation for the bidding process, which was used for internal presentations and client workshops. The visualisation used GIS data to showcase where existing infrastructure intersected the light rail project’s proposed area, and to convey the wider impact that the project would have on the community.
The visualisation was made accessible via a web link that streamed data from a centralised GIS server. It was an easy way to visualise the project conceptually and to demonstrate to the client that we understood the project area, and its overall objectives.
What is great about working at Aurecon within the geospatial team is that every day is different with projects that both enthuse and challenge. The problem-solving aspect of my job is especially enjoyable, as well as how I can be my authentic self in an inclusive and diverse work environment.
Realising career and personal goals
Working at Aurecon, you are supported in all areas of development both to encourage you to become a recognised professional in your field and to have opportunities to fulfil other personal goals.
The company not only allowed me to study my geospatial master’s degree as part of its Education Assistance Programme, but it has also supported me to establish ‘LGBT+ in STEM’ in 2018. This is a New Zealand professional networking group and support platform to improve the visibility of the LGBTI community in STEM industries and workplaces in general. There are extremely poor retention rates of the LGBTI community in STEM, so this initiative helps create a more diverse and inclusive work environment, where innovation can thrive. It’s proven that creativity and the best ideas come to the fore when people feel safe to be themselves, have fun and collaborate.
My best advice to graduates
- Get involved with extracurricular activities in university – it looks particularly good on your application, and it gives you a topic to discuss in your interview.
- Learn to manage your stress at university – take each day as it comes. Plan your assignments and get into a routine of a more balanced life. If you can establish this at university, it will come far more naturally when you start working full-time.
- Put yourself out there and be brave – say ‘yes’ to every public speaking or presenting opportunity you get at university. It will help build your confidence and you’ll be great at public speaking by the time you begin your career.