Alex Pasco - Geospatial careers profile

Alex is a Geospatial Data Administrator with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Alex Pasco
  • Employer: New Zealand Defence Force
  • Qualification: Master of Applied Science in GIS
  • Tertiary Institute: University of Otago

Why did you choose to study GIS?

During my Geography degree an introductory GIS paper was recommended to me by one of my Geography lecturers. He explained how GIS was a way to visualise and manipulate geographic data using the power of computers. This immediately appealed to me as it combined two of my interests, Geography and Computing. After completing my Geography degree (minoring in GIS) I decided to complete a Masters of Applied Science in GIS at the University of Otago. This course provided a great platform to launch my career from.

What are some benefits you’ve experienced from studying GIS?

Studying GIS at the University of Otago set me up with a wide range of skills and exposed me to a variety of GIS software. It also taught me to be adaptable which is very important in my current job. Since my job is so dynamic, I constantly have to learn new software and new processes to adapt and keep up with the constantly changing geospatial world. One key part of my MAppSc degree that has helped me immensely was the final project I undertook. My project was to help integrate GIS into the Dunedin Airport maintenance program. I was tasked with consolidating utilities data and mapping out the entire underground infrastructure of the Airport. Not only did this improve my GIS skills but it gave me experience dealing with clients in a professional environment. I now use these skills everyday in my job when dealing with clients and it has made the transition from student to a working professional a lot easier.

How important is GIS for your existing and future career options, and why?

For me, GIS is very important because without it I wouldn’t have a job. At GNZ we are constantly receiving new spatial data from all over the world and without GIS there would be no way to store, analyse, manipulate and make use of the data. GIS is a fast growing industry that is branching into a wide variety of job sectors. People have recently begun to discover that all data has a spatial aspect to it and are using GIS to make their businesses more efficient and profitable. This will lead to more job opportunities in the future for geospatial professionals and the requirement for more people to become involved in GIS.

What advice would you give to future students considering adding a GIS component to their studies?

I would highly recommend adding GIS papers into the degree you are working towards. Having knowledge and experience in GIS will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to applying for jobs. Companies are beginning to realise the power that geospatial data can provide for many aspects of their industry and are looking for graduates that have the skills to manage this kind of data.