Learning Never Ends: Professional Development at Gaia Resources

At Gaia Resources, every team member is encouraged to build their own Professional Development (PD) plan, identifying areas in which they want to expand their skills or knowledge and their proposed approach to do so. PD plans could be as simple as spending a couple of hours on a training video or be as complex as a mini-project to solve a problem for the organisation. 

For a handful of our non-technical team members, workshops such as those hosted by She Codes provide a great environment to expand their understanding of web development.  She Codes hosts one-day weekend workshops for women and non-binary individuals to introduce them to coding. Sophie Darnell wrote about taking advantage of a virtual She Codes workshop at the beginning of the pandemic. Although these classes are outside of normal working hours, they are recognised as work hours by the company. 

While as a company we fully embrace continual learning, we also enjoy giving back and fostering the learning of others. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Software Engineer Sarah Aldrich donated many evenings and weekends to mentor for the She Codes Plus six-month bootcamp. 

Our team at Gaia Resources are a pretty diverse bunch, and the ways we prefer to learn and communicate are pretty diverse too. We have a broad range of skills and an amazing cohort of colleagues who are happy to share what they know. So sometimes when we want to learn a new skill, the first place to start is with each other.

Gaia Resources prefers to use open source software in our solutions, where appropriate (Read Chris’s introduction to open source software here). One open source solution that we have implemented for our clients is Drupal. Drupal is a Content Management System (CMS), available to download for free. One of our Senior Developers, Brianna Williams (Bri), has been using her knowledge and experience with Drupal to bring open source content management systems to our clients. One of the most recent of these was the delivery of the Collections Online solution for the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) late last year. She is also a member of the Drupal Brisbane Meetup group, sharing ideas and challenges with other developers using the platform.

Bri realised that other team members (mostly non-technical) were interested in expanding their knowledge of CMSs but struggled to find solid foundational beginner resources. Having had positive experiences using Pantheon hosting on Drupal projects, and benefiting from their online resources, she decided it would be a good place for the team to start. While the resources themselves are self-paced and online, it can often be intimidating if you are starting ‘from scratch’ to complete them by yourself. If you encounter an issue, there may not be many ways to solve it in real-time, and it is harder to confidently complete. Bri recognised these barriers to entry and arranged a session for interested team members to work through the training together, with a dedicated chat line for her to help out anyone who got stuck as soon as possible, and for us all to learn from each other’s mistakes.

Voon-Li Chung leading an Arduino lesson

Once a month, all Software Engineers meet to discuss tools and practises, to stay abreast of what is happening in the field. In these meetings we also share the outcomes of personal PD projects and discuss avenues for future ones. Recently the Software Engineers have embarked on a bit of group PD. One of our mobile developers, Voon Li Chung, kindly volunteered to run Arduino workshops for all interested parties. Upon completion of official business, the Software Engineering meetings turn into hands-on lessons where Voon-Li guides us in a build. Each lesson is designed to build on previous lessons and to demonstrate specific capabilities of Arduinos. Starting with turning on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and making them flash, we have progressed to learning about H-Bridges that will eventually enable our robots to move both forward and in reverse.  

It is great to learn with a team who are so interested in taking on new challenges and discovering new solutions. Whether we are learning from each other or teaching each other, Gaia Resources has successfully fostered an environment where we are all comfortable exploring new things.

If you want to be a part of a team that values learning or if you have something you can teach our team, reach out! We would love to hear from you. Reach out directly via info@gaiaresources.com.au or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook


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