Tristan McHardie - Geospatial careers profile

Tristan McHardie is a GIS Administrator at Waikato Regional Council.

Tristan McHardie
  • Qualification and GIS component: Master of Social Science – geography thesis – “Internet Mapping of Demographic Diversity”
  • Tertiary Institute: University of Waikato

Why have you chosen to study GIS?

I originally studied computer science and worked as a web developer for several years after graduating. I’ve always been interested in maps and atlases and, with a little exposure to spatial data at work; this seeded my interest in GIS.

I wanted to upskill, and it made sense to expand on my undergraduate degree so studying GIS was a great way to do it. I initially enrolled in the University of Waikato’s Postgraduate Diploma in Geography with a specialisation in GIS, but I was encouraged to bump this up to a Master of Social Science.

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

GIS is a vast field with applications across so many industries. While the internet has been used for sharing maps for many years, the use of web maps and online GIS is snowballing. GIS in some form will be at the forefront of my career, whether I continue working as a web developer or if I move into practicing in GIS itself.

How has studying GIS shaped your career goals?

When I started studying, I had very few clues about the industry applications of GIS. Although I don’t want to be pigeonholed by my prior experience, studying GIS has taught me there’s a niche for people like me with nut and bolts technical skills, despite not having a background in a subject which leverages GIS for analysis.

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

GIS is nothing new but more and more employers are becoming aware of its applications and benefits. You’ll be surprised at just how often you can make use of GIS, and an introductory paper will give you a taste. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a GIS practitioner, knowing that GIS exists and what its capabilities are could be incredibly useful further down the track.