Editor’s Note: Maxar team member Robin Hargis had the opportunity to participate in the Young Professionals Golden Ticket Program October 5-8, 2021, at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s (USGIF) annual GEOINT Symposium. Each year, USGIF offers the Golden Ticket program as an opportunity for young geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) professionals age 35 or younger to receive complimentary registration to the GEOINT Symposium. Golden Ticket recipients participate in exclusive mentoring sessions with senior industry leaders, attend the USGIF Chairman’s Reception, grow their network and much more. Robin shared her thoughts with the Maxar communications team following the event.

Maxar: How did you get started in the GEOINT community and what is your current role at Maxar?

Robin Hargis: After determining that a career in medicine wasn’t a good fit for me, I took a few classes to explore new career opportunities. I found my way to a geographic information systems (GIS) course and saw a lot of applicability across a variety of industries and began charging down that path. After receiving my master’s degree at the University of Missouri, I began working at their Center for Geospatial Intelligence as a Production Manager. A few years later, I moved to L3Harris. Now, I’m based out of Maxar’s St. Louis, Missouri, office, where I serve as Production Manager for a wonderful team of analysts supporting the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) Janus Geography program.

How did you learn about USGIF’s Golden Ticket Program?

I was encouraged to apply by my Maxar colleagues Dana Stuckey and Josh Sisskind. Josh was a Golden Ticket program participant in 2018. This was my first time attending the GEOINT Symposium, and I’m glad I did—it was a great experience!

This year was the first time the GEOINT Symposium was held in St. Louis. How did it feel to have one of the world’s largest intelligence gatherings held in your backyard?

I grew up about two-and-a-half hours from St. Louis in a farming community and moved to St. Louis five years ago. The geospatial community is buzzing here and it is fantastic! With NGA’s new western campus being built here, the opportunities being cultivated at the T-REX innovation center downtown, and a variety of outreach programs underway to provide non-traditional pathways into the industry, we are creating high visibility for the geospatial community in the city. It’s attracting and cultivating a lot of talent! I am honored to participate in that growth first-hand, and I’m excited for the future of geospatial here in St. Louis.

What was something interesting you learned at GEOINT 2021?

It was interesting to learn how others got started in this industry. In many cases, the geospatial industry was something many had stumbled upon or had pivoted toward later in their careers. It was fascinating to hear the wide range of backgrounds from speakers and mentors throughout the week.

What was your favorite part of the event?

My favorite part was the ability to increase my professional network and to create connections. Because of the pandemic, it has been so long since I had the ability to make those connections. It was energizing to meet with colleagues in the industry again.

What element of your GEOINT Symposium experience do you plan to bring back to Maxar?

As part of the Golden Ticket program, there were a lot of mentoring sessions on how to be a more effective leader. My hope is that I can apply those skills and become a better leader and mentor for my own team and to better serve them in my role here at Maxar. And, of course, I brought lots of GEOINT swag back to share with my team!

What piece of advice did you take away from your Golden Ticket experience that you would like to share with other young professionals?

Take every opportunity to network and to diversify your professional connections. You never know what door a new contact can open. There was a strong emphasis in many of the sessions about expanding your professional network. I also encourage all young professionals to apply and take advantage of the Golden Ticket program or similar opportunities. I am very thankful to have been a part of the 2021 cohort!

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