Insight | Aug 14, 2019 | Arora
Employee Spotlight: Savannah Sill
Savannah Sill is a GIS Specialist in our Charlotte office. Savannah earned her Master’s in Geographic Information Science and Cartography in 2014 and joined Arora as a GIS Analyst just before finishing her degree. She was also recently recognized by Arora’s Value Recognition Program for “Excellence.”
How did you come into this career? Is this something you always wanted to do?
If someone in high school had told me I would be doing computer mapping for a career, I would have said they were crazy! I had thought about becoming a master carpenter or an environmental scientist. Then, in 2011, I biked across the country to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research and outreach for diagnosed patients. The journey across the country, from Bar Harbor, ME to Seattle, WA, included manual map reading and on the bike navigation without a GPS, which gave me my first introduction to map analysis and a taste for a future in GIS. I found that I was really good at reading a map and biking. So, while my bachelor’s degree is in Geography and Environmental Studies, I decided to get a Master’s in Geographic Information Science and Cartography and joined Arora just before graduation.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The great thing about this industry is there’s rarely a dull moment. There’s always something to do, something to learn, and we really try to stay up to date on the latest technology or we’re developing it in house. Therefore, we have the ability to research and develop the best strategy for the client and to take a project a step beyond what’s currently available. Our team is also really well-balanced, with a great spread of technical capabilities across the board and personalities that work well together. This leads to a less stressful, really fun work environment.
What makes you unique and different?
On the GIS team, my strengths are in supporting our clients with online components. In an Esri Environment and working with an online system, I am probably the strongest suited for those projects. I work on building databases and ensuring that asset and inventory collection can work for field agents, both online and offline. Personally, I am a good listener and a strong communicator among clients, sub-consultants, and prime consultants, which is important as Arora commonly works with clients and other engineering firms who may not know much about GIS.
What are your favorite types of projects to work on?
I sincerely enjoy the projects where we build collections. For instance, we worked with Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to do an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) inventory. We built a database to collect information on where there were non-ADA-compliant issues (e.g. wrong height for handrails, handicap bathrooms that weren’t wide enough, etc.) The fun and exciting thing is that as the technology gets better over the years, clients are coming up with new ideas that we can help them with. They will approach us and say, “Is it possible to do a collection like this?” Then we get to do the research, create an operations dashboard, and travel to the site for field training where we can see what we built in person.
What are your career goals?
A major career goal for me is to earn my GIS Professional (GISP) certification, which I am currently working on. This certification shows that you are a leader in the industry, so you must have a certain number of years in a GIS position, submit a portfolio, as well as take an exam. I also recently became a Project Manager (PM) on my first project. I still really enjoy getting my hands dirty with the production of a project, but I also enjoy speaking to clients directly and making decisions on what needs to get done. Therefore, I feel that I would like to keep working on projects, but also start to manage 2-3 projects in the future.
What do you like to do for fun?
In my off time I still enjoy bike racing, as well as rock climbing.