Innovate Employee Spotlight: Lisa Jackson
What do you do at our company?
I am a Geospatial Developer/Analyst. I support the EPA Region 9 contract. I’ve also worked on USDA and EPA Office of Water projects.
What do Innovate's mission and core values mean to you?
Innovate’s core values characterize how I live my life, and support the other aspects of my life, including family. Last year I was certified as a firefighter for my volunteer department. I've since earned my Firefighter II certification and regularly train within and outside my county. That kind of community service supports “valuing human beings,” “it's personal,” and “let me at it.” Being a firefighter, I do not know what I am going to get or what I will be doing, and I just have to figure out how to help. The same applies to my family. My parents live right down the road. We moved them here last year, and since they're getting older, I will be able to help with various needs.
For Innovate, before I got hired, I was looking for remote work and to continue doing GIS. I looked into a couple of companies, but Innovate’s mission totally took me by surprise. It surpassed my expectations for an employer. The Innovate team is very supportive. There have been a few times where I've had to say, “Hey, I’ve got to go. This is what's going on.” The typical response is, “Do what you need to do,” which is very refreshing. It's an amazing culture to work in.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
A typical workday often varies. I have quiet days and I have busy days. Some days are fast-paced, others are quieter and good for figuring out a task or a particular skill that I might be struggling with. I use quiet days to tweak processes I have figured out or am still working on; to update item details to make sure the metadata (the “about” information) is more compliant, and to learn more about various Esri products. My favorite days are those when I learn something new or breakthrough something I've been working on.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I am an introvert, and I am very laid back. Many things I do, like this personal interview, can take a lot of effort. But over the years, I have learned to do it and enjoy it.
I am an adjunct instructor. I have been teaching at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) for close to five years. Before that, I taught for four years at Valdosta State University in Georgia, both in the classroom and in a hybrid environment. Usually, my favorite class of students was non-traditional versus the true freshmen.
My husband also does GIS and as a fire instructor, teaches me on the fireground.
Another thing most people don’t know about me is that I've been around racetrack greyhounds for 10+ years. I got my first greyhound in 2010, and they are amazing. I have two sitting behind me now, and that is pretty much what they do all day long. They sleep most of the time and have regular “break” times for food and outside. Their names are Pepper and Ally. They are both from Florida and they love to cuddle and play. They usually run around the house five to six times, and then they are done.
What has been your favorite project so far that you've worked on?
My favorite project so far was the EPA Office of Water Sanitary Survey development with Survey123. My Innovate team members were very helpful and insightful! The creativity required to get these surveys to work as required was very freeing. The requests and feedback pushed forward the knowledge of developing Survey123 forms. I built the marine side, and another colleague built the freshwater side. There is an annual and a regular survey, and it was fascinating to take the paper form they have been using for long time and translate that into the Esri Survey123 survey format. We also had to consider how they are going to be using it - are they going to be using it on the phone or on the web? A lot of the choices we made were determined by those needs. One of the interesting parts was the requests and feedback from the clients. My favorite part of that process is how my thoughts change about what I am doing because I am not looking at it the same way they are. It is another tool to throw in the back of my head to make future processes better. I also enjoyed figuring out the dashboards. There have been a few times when dashboards were needed for projects I was working on, and the dashboards have not been around long. The dashboards are basically a bunch of graphics showing the data, making it easier to read, rather than looking in an attribute table or a map.
What has surprised you about working at Innovate in your field, or your career trajectory?
The like-mindedness of the GIS professionals across the different organizations has been particularly striking. We have similar ways of engaging thoughts and exploring our field. Our attitudes are similar on how we address what we do, and even the social end of things. It has been fun.