Mapscaping: geospatial consulting – as a business and a career


Olivier Leroy


January 14, 2023

The Mapscaping Podcast is a great podcast in the “geospatial” space. It covers a broad diversity of topics and the production value is always top notch.

I was quite interested in the last episode geospatial consulting – as a business and a career and wanted to share some of the little gems this episode has to offer.

The episode was an interview with Todd Slind (VP of Technology) at about geospatial consulting. As the title states, the show addresses both the business and career aspect of geoconsulting.

Before going into these two aspects, I would like to thank Locana for sponsoring the podcast and contributing to the geospatial community. I am also following Geospatial Connections with another Locana employe and I feel those contributions are great!

Geospatial Consulting as Business

“We do not want to be on the bleeding edge […] where we are doing all the bleeding […].” Todd Slind

A lot of the exchange was around the need for a consulting business (and as we will see later how it applies to individuals) to strike a balance between having a strong core or area of expertise while also placing some bets in other sectors.

This dichotomy can also be seen in the “mature market” versus “less mature market”. For a consultancy business, it is good to have strong foundations in an established industry. It could be in both markets, but I guess it seems it is easier in a mature market thanks to “off-the-shelf solutions”.

Both markets were defined as:

Mature Market:

  • Standardize: allow “off-the-shelf solutions”
  • Presence of a robust consultancy ecosystem (with competition)
  • Informed consumers

Less Mature Market:

  • Problems are still unclear
  • Need for more custom development / more IT
  • More constraints from the environment (ex: low bandwidth)
  • Need to build a common language

The best way to build a strong core is to practice and build experience.

Geospatail consulting as a career

This leads, at the consultant level, to a trade off between “learning on the job” versus “being in your comfort zone”. You need to maintain your core area of expertise while also being curious about new opportunities.

According to Todd Slind, a great consultant should have:
- Curiosity/creativity as a self-starter
- Can “interface” with clients (importance of speaking the same language)
- Is able to have ownership over their own personal development

If a consultant wants to bring new ideas/new technology to improve a process, it is better if they can bring some prototype or find a way to show how it can be “real”. I should print this advice: it is easy to see all the new shiny developments (sedona, arrow) but the better question is “where and how to apply them to solve problems?”

I also liked the idea for consultants to socialize and create discussion spaces dedicated to estimating the time needed for different assignments.

Strangely, technology was not brought into the discussion too much (ie: impact of choosing one, “one-way door versus two-way doors”) and I hope this can be a topic for another episode!!!