Case study

Geospatial graduate — Jonathan Allsup

Jonathan studied BA Geography with International Study at The University of Manchester and Queen's University in Canada. He's now landed a place on the Ordnance Survey (OS) graduate scheme where he currently works in product management

How did you get onto the OS graduate scheme?

I saw the position listed after searching if the OS had any opportunities in early September of my final year. I applied online after preparing my CV and then went through the application process.

I found that the OS were super accommodating throughout the process and fundamentally just want to get to know you more and understand where your passions lie.

My recommendation for anyone thinking of applying is just to be yourself and show passion about your work.

What's a typical day like on the scheme?

This can vary depending on which projects I am working on. Currently, my average day is a mix of geospatial analysis, business strategy and customer facing interviews, but I have the opportunity to shape my work and add my own value to projects.

I also try to keep my skills sharp and the OS supports technical training through a variety of support schemes, which I make use of throughout the week.

What do you enjoy most about the programme?

My favourite thing is that it gives graduates the space to network and have an exciting, real impact on the future of the business.

There is also a genuine focus on upskilling which the OS provides throughout the programme.

OS give me the space to apply my own problem solving to real business problems, which helps to enhance my portfolio.

What are the challenges?

The initial challenge was the culture shock of transferring from university to full-time work. Fortunately, by taking on projects and slowly gaining responsibility, the scheme let me land on my feet.

At the moment, it's been dealing with multiple projects and stakeholders at once, which was the most significant change of pace to my previous university experience.

In what ways is your degree relevant?

Geography is fundamentally at the heart of the OS. I have found that spatial thinking and problem solving are synonymous across both geography and the company, which has made my degree both applicable and relevant on a daily basis.

I gained a lot of technical spatial problem solving from my background in GIS (geographic information system), cartography and remote sensing, so have found the transferability of my skillset within the business an easy transition.

More importantly, I have found the soft skills geography teaches to be most valuable at OS. Geographers are taught to frame problems through a focus on relationships and to nuance the complications between them. I have found this skill applicable to every project over the past six months and it enriches my work across both strategic and technical problems.

What have been your highlights so far?

I have been involved in a variety of discovery projects, working with customers to develop strategy using my own methods. I have found understanding the customer, their technical priorities and transferring this insight into solutions bridges the gap between my technical background and new project management experiences at OS.

These projects can involve running/contributing to workshops, producing strategy, and translating that strategy into solutions.

Some of my recent work has featured in Errors and Omissions, customer migration and competitor insight strategy. Alongside this, I am involved in technical projects investigating new ways of working with OS data, as well as finding ways to identify data problems so we can improve products for future use.

The work I am proudest of has been the 'Energy and Infrastructure' migration project. This is a culmination of 14 workshops, technical information processing and the creation of a final customer migration strategy for the transfer between two flagship products in the commercial sector using new innovative methods.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

The graduate scheme has been a great environment to take on new, stimulating projects. As my portfolio has grown, new opportunities have opened up, which has given me the chance to partake in exciting new initiatives.

My career ambitions are in geospatial consultancy, which strikes the balance between my geospatial background and the new customer strategy I am developing in product management and fundamentally 'think customer'.

Understanding real world problems and using geospatial analysis to aid in decision making is at the core of what I want to do. My next placement as a graduate will be gaining experience in the protection of the life sector with the Emergency Services Gazetteer where I am keen to pursue these skills further.

What three tips would you give to other graduates looking to enter this field?

  • Continue doing the work you're most passionate about. The geospatial field is driven from enthusiasm and this always shows through your work.
  • Have pride in your achievements and the confidence to share your discoveries.
  • Be genuinely curious. The OS is a company that thrived and still thrives on discovering the unknown.

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