According to Euroconsult, Earth Observation data and services markets are expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2031, up from $4.6 billion in 2021. Unlocking the full potential of this fast-growing industry, requires a deep pool of Geographic Information System (GIS) talent—people trained in processing, sorting and analyzing EO datasets to help end users across government and commercial sectors derive actionable insights.

To support this growing need, many governments and industry organizations have made it a priority to bring more students into GIS careers. The U.K. Geospatial Commission, for example, has conducted studies identifying gaps in GIS skillsets to inform the government’s GIS strategy.

We spoke with Maxar’s Bhavini Karadia, Customer Success Manager based in the U.K., about the value of a career in GIS, how she got into the field and how the Maxar team in the U.K. support outreach to students and academia to help build the talent pipeline, including her involvement in a Royal Geographic Society program to encourage students 12- to 15-year-olds to study geography.

Bhavini Karadia, a Customer Success Manager based in the U.K., with British TV presenter Dallas Campbell at Space-Comm Expo, held this past March in Farnborough, England.

Q: What drove you to study geography and was a career in GIS always the goal?

Bhavini: As a teenager, I’d always been intrigued by the endless possibilities and the broad nature of the geography field, and that has led lively debates about climate change, deep dives into shifting global demographics and learning how beaches are formed. I decided to pursue my natural curiosity at an undergraduate level, earning my bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Northampton and a master’s degree in development studies at SOAS, University of London. Maxar was my first corporate job. My role as an Imagery Support Representative was the perfect fit.

Q: Do you think there’s enough awareness about GIS career opportunities?

Bhavini: Geography is a common way into the GIS sector. Geography typically has a reputation of being a “traveling wanderlust” degree with no proper job prospects at the end of it. I think there is a lack of understanding of how many doors a geography degree can truly open. The GIS industry has a lot of room for growth and innovation and there are countless paths to get there. There’s opportunity to combine various types of satellite imagery and many verticals and use cases that are still maturing—and that means more opportunity for early career professionals.

Q: What are the talent challenges in the field and what should industry do to help address them?

Bhavini: The GIS sector still lacks true diversity of ethnic minorities and women, especially when it comes to the subsector of international intelligence and defense. While this is slowly changing and diversity statistics are ticking up, there is still a long way to go. In EMEA and APAC specifically, it would be great to see an expanded number of industry internship opportunities to allow young people to try various roles out before they commit to careers in the sector. It would also be a smoother transition for young people to find their feet in the working world. Having universities forge relationships with remote sensing companies would also be very impactful for our industry. For example, Maxar has partnered with the University of Northampton and the Royal Geographical Society over the years in the U.K., and we have deep relationships with universities in the U.S., including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Bhavini Karadia at the SOAS University of London graduation ceremony after earning her master’s degree in Development Studies.

Q: Can you expand on the engagement you’ve had with academic institutions in the U.K.?

Bhavini: We’ve established a strong relationship with Leicester Space Park that we continue to nurture, providing data and other support for several of their research projects. We have also deepened our relationship with Sudbury Primary school in London, engaging them in our “GIS Day” academic outreach programming and contributing to the renovation of their early years outdoor area as part of Maxar’s back to school initiative. On a personal note, I have been working with the Royal Geographical Society as part of their “What do geographers actually do?” series, which is focused on engaging young students and teaching them about the career opportunities enabled by geography degrees.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

Bhavini: I’m inspired by the colleagues I get to work with and the customers we get to support. My team is composed of incredibly talented and intelligent individuals, and it’s inspiring to see the important role that Maxar’s products and services play in the daily workflows of our customers and how they drive meaningful outcomes for important projects.

Interested in a GIS career?

Maxar is hiring, view our job postings to explore open positions.

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