Hear from our past
JBA graduates

JBA's graduate scheme offers the perfect opportunity for STEM students to progress their career in the field of natural hazards and software development. Hear from some of the graduates who have completed the scheme about why they chose JBA, what they enjoy most about their job, and what a day in the life of a JBA graduate looks like.

Kirsty Brown – GIS and Flood Mapping Specialist

What’s a standard day like in your role?

I am currently working on the updates to our Australia Flood Maps, having previously worked in the Europe and UK flood mapping teams. I am also working on the delivery of our UK and Ireland data and have recently helped out with the Canada Flood Maps update, as well as undertaking some research into the river gauge data sources that could be used in future projects - this just shows how different each day can be!

My work ranges from investigating the inputs and outputs of our flood modelling and creating the national-scale flood maps to answering client queries and attending internal and external training sessions to broaden my understanding of the business and the industry. As part of the graduate scheme, I have also completed a three-month secondment with the Research and Development team to work on new avenues of development for the business, which gave me the opportunity to explore other aspects of the company and and complete my own research project.

What are the top three things you like about your job?

  1. The variety of tasks – no two projects are the same!
  2. Continuously learning new skills through secondments, training and internal development sessions. I get to build on my existing skills and interests in hydrology and GIS beyond what I learned at university.
  3. The colleagues that I work with – JBA is full of friendly faces who are happy to help you gain new skills.

What’s the best project you’ve worked on?

We were the first to create national-scale flood maps for Continental Europe at 5m resolution and it was really rewarding to work towards an industry first. The project was spread over a year and had lots of different data and teams involved, so it was interesting to see it all come together using the different technical specialisms throughout JBA.

Robert Shaw – GIS and Flood Mapping Specialist

What’s a standard day like in your role?

I work in the UK and Republic of Ireland flood mapping team. A standard day begins with a team meeting to update each other on everyone’s progress from the previous day and outline the upcoming tasks that need completing. For me, this usually involves the creation and quality control of spatial data, such as river, surface water and coastal flood layers, which will be delivered to clients.

I am also involved in some of our global mapping projects such as updating our Europe, Australia and Canada Flood Maps. The Graduate Scheme encourages you to push yourself into other areas of JBA operations and I have taken on a more responsibilities alongside my day to day mapping role - for example, I am project managing the development of a new ground movement dataset as well as acting as client support to some of our insurance clients. This involves attending client meetings, delivering training and answering any queries they may have about our maps. 

What are the top three things you like about your job?

  1. The engaging nature of the work – my tasks vary each day and it’s very rare that I’m doing the same thing repeatedly. I’m constantly learning new techniques and how to use new software tools and programmes. The stimulating and ever-changing workload means I am never bored.
  2. Everyone at JBA is unbelievably friendly and patient! The whole team is more than happy to help you out whether it be with a technical problem relating to the project you’re working on or simply if you’re having car trouble and need a lift into work.
  3. Flexible working hours, which really helps you maintain a good work/life balance.

What do you like about the graduate scheme?

I like the fact that the graduate scheme provides a structured introduction to both JBA working practices and flood mapping and modelling in general. The graduate scheme competencies provide a helpful framework around which I can structure my on-the-job and internal training, learning skills across different areas of the business from project management to client relations. I also like the fact that there are multiple graduates on the scheme at any one time who are all at different stages, meaning there’s always someone you can ask for advice.

Eilidh Ronald – Technical Assistant

What’s a standard day like in your role?

I work in the Global Mapping team and have worked on various projects including producing the first flood maps at 5m resolution nationwide for the US.

My day starts with a short catch up where I inform the project manager and the rest of the team of my progress and what work I have on that day. I spend most of my time using GIS software and JBA’s 2D hydraulic modelling software JFlow to produce these flood maps.

Alongside my technical work, I provide regular training to clients on our flood map data after having the opportunity to shadow senior colleagues on client calls.

I also recently completed a six month secondment to another area of the business. I worked with our Statistics and Hydrology team to work on our Event Set and Climate Change Analytics projects. My day typically consisted of researching third-party datasets and using R to plot comparisons between prospective datasets before providing a final recommendation regarding the most appropriate one to use for these projects. I found the experience of having a secondment to another team really valuable - I was able to learn from colleagues who I wouldn’t ordinarily work with and develop new skills.

What are the top three things you like about your job?

  1. My colleagues - I remember feeling very welcomed in my first few days at JBA. I work in a really supportive team who are always willing to help when I need it. JBA also has a team that organise regular social events outside of work – most recently these have been done virtually!
  2. The work - Since studying Geography at university, I’ve been interested in climate change, hydrology and flood risk management. I always enjoyed my GIS modules and using 1D and 2D hydraulic modelling software to produce flood maps and flood risk reports. Now I get to work in a job where I use my knowledge and skills in these areas every day.
  3. Learning - I’m confident in saying I learn something new every day at JBA. We often have company-wide coffee mornings where a colleague will present on a project they have been working on. It’s a good way to get an insight into other teams and how my work feeds into the rest of the company. I've also attended internal training sessions where a colleague will run a workshop on a particular area of their specialism, which helps me develop skills outside my direct line of work.

What do you like about the graduate scheme?

The different modules of the graduate scheme have allowed me to learn about the different areas of the company. They can also be done at your own pace, in the order that you feel is best, so that your graduate scheme learning complements your day-to-day work. Additionally, I have taken up the option of having a mentor – an experienced colleague that gives guidance in an area of my choosing. Through working with my mentor and learning from their expertise, I have achieved my goals and competencies more effectively.

It has also been good to go through the process with other graduates. Four of us started around the same time and it has been good to share advice and experiences with each other.

Sophie Taylor – Software Developer

What’s a standard day like in your role?

I started my time at JBA on a secondment to the Europe mapping team, where I worked on mapping flood in Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Austria. After my first 6 months I moved to the software team, where I was involved in creating new and improved GIS software tools for use by the mapping teams. This involved spatial data analysis of raster, vector and csv datasets with Python programming.

More recently, I have moved into the Web and DevOps team where I used innovative tools such as Django and VueJS to design and create a web interface displaying our flood data.

I’m also given to chance to demonstrate my work to external clients. Throughout my different roles, I often attend training and development sessions which expand my knowledge of the company, the industry and our clients as a whole. 

What are the top three things you like about your job?

  1. JBA really invest in your learning and knowledge. A large training budget is available for you to gain knowledge in specific areas that interest you, as well as many internal training sessions.
  2. The graduate scheme allows you to rotate around different teams to experience different areas of the business. In 1.5 years of being here, I have worked in the mapping team, software team and now the web team.
  3. The people are all very friendly and welcoming and there are plenty of different social events after work to join.

Why did you choose a career in software development?

Working in software development at JBA has allowed me to combined my interests in geography and hydrology with my interests in software and technology, working towards flood risk projects.

Stephanie Hodsman – Assistant Analyst

What are the top three things you like about your job?

  1. The people I work with – everyone at JBA is friendly and my team is really fun to work with.
  2. I enjoy the innovative approaches we are using to model floods. The US project I previously worked used new methodologies and things like machine learning, which is interesting to see in practice.
  3. How much importance JBA places on personal development and how many opportunities there are for building new knowledge and skills. The flexibility of the graduate scheme means I can steer my career in the direction I want to, by rotating into different teams and building different skills.

Why did you choose a career in flood mapping?

I have always had an interest in weather and climate and studied Meteorology and Oceanography at university. Having already gained an appreciation of meteorology, I became interested in how weather interacts with the physical environment, particularly relating to flooding as it is such a frequent occurrence around the world, including the UK. Weather (rainfall specifically) feeds directly into the flood modelling done at JBA, so it’s interesting to see it all working together.

What’s the best project you’ve worked on?

The creation of the US 5m Flood Maps – it was such a large project over many years, using lots of different data, teams and specialisms, and I really enjoyed seeing how it all comes together and playing my part in developing the maps. My biggest role was co-Project Manager for the US Defended Areas, where I created the defended layers from the flood output, edited the data, quality checked it and made it a client deliverable. It's really great to be given responsibility like this as a graduate.