2011 wrapped up…

2011 has been another rollercoaster of a ride for us all here at Gaia Resources.  If I had to pick a theme for this year, it would be “change” (as compared to “craptacular” last year).


Our biggest change has been in the way the company is structured, and as a result, our premises here in Leederville has also changed.  Gaia Resources broke out of the small business category during the year, when we grew to now having 23 employees, and look to be taking on more staff in 2012.  As part of that, we needed to restructure the company.  Luckily we have some great colleagues (Cam, from Front and Centre, I’m looking at you), that helped us with the transition and to act as a sounding board for our ideas.



My new office, before and after the move


The structural change was to ‘elevate’ me to the Director position – now in terms of duties, as well as job title – and then create three Business Units (BU); Spatial, Software Engineering and Management.  I am responsible for the Management BU as well as the general company strategy and so on, Andrew took up the reins of the Spatial BU, and AJ took up the same role in the Software Engineering BU.  In our typical “don’t take ourselves too seriously” approach, Andrew and AJ are now known as the Business Unit Managers, or BUMs.  Somehow, that seems appropriate…


The change in structure has been something we’ve been running with since September 5th, and it’s not been without its challenges.  This change means that the typical “Piers has an open door” policy (and the more disruptive “Piers has just come into our project and taken over it” policy) has had to be revisited, and that has been tough for me and the team to get used to.  But the signs are all there that this has been a “Good Thing”, and we’re really starting to see the benefits of it.  Certainly I found that being (politely) removed from project management has been hard to get used to – I still want to get my hands dirty now and then, but the BUMs do let me do so – occasionally.


The expansion meant that we finally got to move out from that little squashed 134 square meter office into a bigger, less squashed 268 square meter premises, by taking over the whole floor of our building.  This was the smoothest transition I’ve ever made in my career between premises, as I talked about in the blog previously.



A collage of our photos posted on Twitter during the move


This whole expansion, restructuring and all that has been the biggest change for the business in its history, and as a result I think as a company we’re really well placed for the future as a result – not that I think we’ve got it working perfectly, and we still need to undertake a bit more change – but where it’s really warranted, not just for the sake of it.


So, change. Of course, there were staff changes.  We said goodbye to Corinne, and welcomed Debbie as her replacement.  Grit and James came on board in our Spatial team, while Stephanie joined our Software Engineering team.  Over at Woodside, our ‘embedded’ staff grew, with Mike working for us on contract, and Elizabeth joining us as another casual.  Keeping up with our scholarships again, Rebekah Daley won our 2011 scholarship at Curtin University (and stay tuned for new scholarships in 2012!). And not forgetting Mel, who left us for the UK, had an absolute blast while she was there, and then came back again to rejoin us, without a hint of an English accent.


Even with all this change, the year was a great success for us as a business.  We picked up a range of new clients, and new projects, but more importantly, we continued to get repeat work from our clients, which is my own yardstick about how well we are doing our jobs.  We’ve also continued to work with Rio Tinto – who have been with us since I started the company six or so years ago. We put big projects like the South West Australian Ecoregion Initiative’s Systematic Conservation Planning project to bed, continued to work on other big projects like the Atlas of Living Australia, and have just published version 1.0 of the BDRS software as a result.  The Software Engineering team got out in the field with the gear we’ve been working on as part of that for projects like the Bushblitz project, which we still look after, and the Perth Zoo Tiwest Night Stalk, where we went out with our families.



Me giving a safety briefing at our Night Stalk event (shortly before tanning nocturnal animals with that spotlight at my feet)


We did some innovative projects in amongst all this change, such as the Emergentweet sprint, Andrew’s public transport mashups, and a day of using game rigs for serious aerial photography.  These sort of innovative days are things we’ll be doing more of in 2012, and we’ve got a couple of them already set up ready to go.

Along the way, somewhere in there I got secretly nominated for and (surprisingly, for me) won the WA Spatial Professional of the Year award, and was then nominated for the Asia Pacific version of that award.  Which meant I had an excuse to fork out to go to New Zealand for the SSSI conference (which I wrapped up, with my rarely worn “controversial pants” on, here). A bunch of us also went to WALIS here in Perth, and OZRI over in Melbourne, but along the way the team also attended ISRSE34, and even a mobile web conference in Amsterdam! So we did a fair bit of talking, and a lot of listening, too.


We had a few different staff events, like a tour at the Aquarium of Western Australia, the Perth Zoo, and this year for the end of year function, we’re heading up for a big family picnic in Kings Park (after a bit of mucking about with the folks from the WA Flying Disc Association).  Photos of that event might be published in the new year, if we survive the heat!


The roller coaster ride that is Gaia Resources looks set to have another great year in 2012, with a bunch of really interesting projects ready to kick off when we come back from the break.  We’ve had some great times in 2011, we’ve had some challenges, and a lot of interesting projects along the way.  I hope this same trend – of change – continues into 2012, because this is seriously one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.


Anyway, from me and from all of us here at Gaia Resources – have a great holiday break, and we’ll see you back on deck on the 3rd January, 2012.


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