Meet the team helping customers unlock value from OS data
Brought to you by the Women's Engineering Society (WES), International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and highlights the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this industry.
As part of our series to introduce you to the brilliant people within OS and share the variety of work we do, meet Claire Birnie. As a Technical Relationship Consultant, she tells us about her career journey and how she got into engineering at OS…
How long have you worked for OS?
Just over a year now! I joined the Consultancy & Technical Services Team in April 2020 as a Technical Relationship Consultant. I’m a remote home worker in Bradford serving our government customers in Yorkshire.
Can you describe your working day?
I work compressed hours so I have an early start. This quiet time before most people sign in means I can look over my workload, to-do lists and meetings for planning the day. There are seven of us in the Northern Team and each of us have a patch of customers to look after.
My patch is Yorkshire, so quite a large area, and my role is to support Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) customers implementing our data and to assist them in getting the best out of it. This can be anything from fielding licensing questions, data manipulation and mapping outputs to presenting product workshops. Our customers cover a variety of functions such as Local Authorities, Combined Authorities and Fire & Police Rescue Services.
I’m also involved in work that comes from internal sources from the wider National Mapping Services team. I’m part of the Environment Sector working group as due to my previous work experience and I’m passed work from their Sector Plans. I’m also very interested in cartography and data visualisation, so I wrangle my way into projects where there’s a visual output or a chance at creating good data communication.
What is your favourite part of your job?
The variety of work I get to be involved in is awesome as I really enjoy not doing the same things all the time. I’m simply happy when I have given my customer the answer they need and they’re happy with my work – whatever that work is. I enjoy making the difficult bits of my customer's life easier so they can focus on what they need to get on with.
What interested you about the industry?
I didn’t know anything about geospatial until I took 2 modules during my second year at university! After those classes I was hooked, I found GIS and data visualisations interesting and I seemed to be good at it. So, following graduation I landed a job in the Environment Agency working on Flood Risk Planning where I was making maps and data visuals for Consultants and for Planning & Policy making. From there I’ve simply gotten more nerdy and pursued roles solely in geospatial technology and data visualisation.
How did you get into engineering?
Not in the usual GCSE - A-Level - Degree - Job pipeline. I left school at 16 and worked in retail/bar jobs until my early 20s. I then worked in the Financial Services Sector and over 7 years built up to a career in Business Risk Management. Engineering certainly wasn’t part of my plan, I didn’t think I had one until I was made redundant in 2008 and decided to pursue something I was passionate about – which ended up being the environment. I attended night school to gain accreditations to be accepted into an Environmental Science Degree which I completed in 2015. I went into my degree with one idea of where I wanted to go (environmental education) and came out being super keen on geospatial.
What are your top tips for getting into engineering?
There’s no right way of getting into it, follow a passion and see where it leads! Use your network or build one by attending events and meeting likeminded people.