2021 in review


2021 was certainly another big year for Gaia Resources – it’s that time of year to do a recap.  So in this blog, we thought we’d walk you through how we’ve grown as a company, commenced work on a number of large projects, celebrated some significant awards alongside our clients, hosted an open-source spatial conference, as well as to give you some of the highlights from our team.

Despite global pandemics, lockdowns, restrictions and other disruptions that had many of us working from home or in limited numbers at our offices, we’ve brought on a number of new team members this year. 

We welcomed nine new staff in 2021 and it is already surprising to think some of them have only been with us for a few weeks or months!  We know we’re behind on updating our web site for these people – so let’s have a look at who they are:

Rachel Pennington joined the team in Perth early in the new year as our new Marketing Coordinator to help drive our marketing strategy and engagement forward.
Rocio Peyronnet is a recent Masters graduate who has jumped onto our Data Science team in Perth as a Spatial Analyst. Within weeks of starting Rocio participated in a NASA Space hackathon, and her team went onto win the Perth prize, beating out 10 other teams! (see her blog article here)
  Sally Mitchell joined us in Brisbane a few months back as our newest Support Coordinator, looking after service level agreements and support to our archives customers.
  Claire Sands recently joined the team as a Business Analyst in Perth for the start of one of our major biodiversity projects.
Gordon Campbell is our newest software engineer with a wonderful Scottish accent who joined the Brisbane team to support a number of archival projects. 
  Gail Wittich came on board recently in Perth as a Data Scientist to crunch and model data for the teams on a number of our biodiversity projects.
Charith Nanayakkara is our new Project Manager in the Brisbane team, managing a major archives project in the area of digital preservation.
  Grant Malcom is a new Project Manager in the Perth team, heading up one of our major biodiversity data projects.
  Tanya Aquino holds the temporary title of our newest team member, joining the Perth team as a Project Manager to manage another one of our major biodiversity data projects.

A few of our colleagues have also moved on in the last year to new roles – and whilst we miss them, we wish them all the best for 2022!

Over the last few years, we saw our team spread out across Australia.  As we’ve all become well versed in working remotely, we’ve been expanding our “satellite offices” as well. Since Chris moved up to Darwin in 2019 to shake up the Perth-Brisbane office duo, we’ve since established space in Hobart, Canberra and now Melbourne.  We’ve established these spaces in co-working spaces, or home offices where they better suit, and we’re working on more strategies to keep our team connected.

With this growth – and to be proactive in our remote working arrangements and distributed offices – we knew it was important to focus on cultural aspects and the structure of our teams in the company. Good open communication has been important at every step of our journey as a company, and through our new focus on the culture and soft skills training we are helping to equip our team to be resilient and values-driven. Putting that focus on people has been a key reason we’re able to deliver our projects during very disruptive times, and we are able to then win more work, hire more people, and keep on supporting our team.

There have also been a large number of projects that we’ve started, continue to work on, and a few larger ones that we’ve started during 2021.  Three in particular that have recently started will see us very busy into the new year (and yes, we’re still hiring, so if you’re interested in joining us, drop us an email), include:

  • Working with the new Biodiversity Information Office of Western Australia, helping them to make Western Australian biodiversity data more discoverable, accessible and usable,
  • Our work with the national Biodiversity Data Repository with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, as part of their much broader Digital Environmental Assessment Program, and
  • An extension of the work we have delivered with the Queensland State Archives, where we are now moving into the delivery of Digital Preservation Systems, along with our consortium partners.

Speaking of projects, it was also a wonderful surprise to see our Retromaps project win the Spatial Enablement category of the Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards for Western Australia. This was a project collaboration we completed some time ago with the State Records Office of Western Australia, but has continued to grab the attention of the public and history enthusiasts. We also saw our work with the Dieback Information Delivery and Management System help the South Coast NRM team to win an award in the 2021 Australian Biosecurity Awards – you can read about both in our straight to the pool room blog article. 

In November, we also hosted the FOSS4G Oceania hub. This was a great chance to bring together a community of open-source spatial professionals, and to hear about the projects and applications people were putting open-source software (like QGIS) to in their workplaces. We did write a recap on that event, and videos are now up and live via this Youtube playlist.  Supporting the open source community takes many hands to make this happen, and the team involved in making it work did a fantastic job – and we’re happy to be able to give back to the community that has helped us become who we are today as a company.

Some of the team involved in running the FOSS4G conference – Nick Middleton, John Bryant, Bryan Boruff and Grant Boxer

An end of wear wrap up wouldn’t be a thing without asking our own team for their highlights, so we did that in today’s last “all company” meeting for the year.  Some of the highlights that we had are summarised below:

  • Working with all the new people that came on board this year, and supporting and learning from each other,
  • Getting our carbon neutral accreditation, and continuing to keep that up,
  • Providing a family friendly, supportive environment for our team and their families,
  • Our running of our 2021 Metrogaine,
  • General shenanigans (including Princess Leia hair buns, comedy hats and general pranks),
  • Being challenged every day,
  • Our focus on people through our soft skills training and the flexibility that we offer to our team members (including remote working),
  • Winning the awards we listed previously in this article, 
  • Growing individually – be it moving up in the “bands” we have, or learning new skills, and helping support each other in that growth, 
  • Delivering projects like our work with QAGOMA and Fishscale,
  • Focusing on our purpose to make the world a better place – and actually doing it, not just making it about lip service.

Gaia Resources has been operating now for 17 years, through the various forms and evolutions that it has undergone.  As we wrap up 2021 (with our Christmas party on the 23rd, and closing on the 24th as usual) and move into 2022, we’re looking forward to it – we will be back on deck on the 4th January, ready to start afresh.

From all of us at Gaia Resources, we wish you and your families a safe and happy holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!

Piers and the team at Gaia Resources

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