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Josi Stephens- Flood mapping and GIS specialist on the Current Graduate programme

How long have you worked at JBA?

I have been at JBA for just over two years working as a member of the mapping teams. Initially I started on a fixed term maternity cover but soon applied for a position on JBA's graduate programme. Before starting at JBA I took a year out to travel after my undergraduate degree, as well as gaining some office experience through various temporary roles and completing my Masters degree before starting at JBA in July 2017.

What's a standard day like in your role?

My typical day can be quite varied and usually requires a lot of multitasking and time management. Since beginning at JBA, I have been working within the Europe and Global Mapping teams on various mapping projects. I spend the majority of my day using specialist GIS software to create and quality check our flood maps. As my time has progressed at JBA, I have learnt how to use JBA’s own hydraulic modelling software called JFlow®, which requires knowledge of databases and coding to complete many of my day to day tasks.

I always enjoyed my GIS modules at university so working at JBA has allowed me to continue with work I enjoy as well as providing a great platform for increasing my knowledge for this subject area. I hope to keep improving my knowledge through working on further projects at JBA.

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

  • Innovation - JBA has a goal to be innovative. This means any new ideas you may have are welcomed with open ears and everyone has the opportunity to put forward any improvements or developments they believe can help our work.
  • Friendly Faces - The atmosphere at JBA is really welcoming and, since starting at JBA, I have really appreciated how open and approachable everyone is. There are no closed doors, which is something I had previously disliked when working for other companies.
  • Growth - JBA offer a great training budget for every employee each year. This means you have every chance to further your knowledge through both internal and external training days and conferences.

Why did you choose a career in flood mapping?

Despite my love for geography at school, I always knew human geography was not the subject for me so I pursued the more physical aspects of geography by completing a BSc in Geology and an MSc in Geophysical Hazards.

Career wise I never had a specific end goal, but knew I enjoyed my GIS modules and so flood mapping kind of fell into my lap! A lot of my University peers progressed into roles as Catastrophe Risk Modellers, which is how I initially found JBA, but the variety of work available at JBA is the main reason I applied as there a numerous opportunities to develop new and existing skills.

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

The best project I have worked on so far is the development of our high-resolution Italy Flood Maps. I have been involved with this project from start to finish, therefore allowing me to learn each stage of the project life cycle as we have progressed. Through working as part of a team, we have created a product which will be used by the industry for cutting-edge decision making. I hope to continue to expand my knowledge by working on similar projects in the future.

You're currently on the JBA Risk Management graduate programme- can you giveus an overview of what it entails and how you've found it so far?

The graduate programme provides a series of specialised online modules, as well as one-to-one learning with other members of staff. This format has been created to allow graduates to learn and develop their knowledge of JBA and understand how the individual teams and processes work together to achieve the company goals. The main aim is to complete a set of competencies by covering skills such as team working, communication, problem solving and many more.

Each module/interaction provides key information which I try to put into practise with my day-to-day responsibilities. There are also opportunities for Out of Office training days and even rotation to other teams within the business. I am using all of the opportunities provided to learn as much as I can about how JBA functions as a business, alongside gaining knowledge and skills I will be able to use in my future career development.

Kathryn Madden – Catastrophe Analyst

How long have you worked at JBA?

I joined JBA nearly eight years ago straight after I finished my MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

What’s a standard day like in your role?

My role has changed a lot since I first started working for JBA creating our European hazard maps in our 2D hydraulic modelling software, JFlow®.

I now manage a team that looks after our event set and hydrology developments. This means that there is no standard day! I can go from working through some data analysis in R and creating and validating an event set, to helping answer complex client queries about our methodologies and planning new projects aimed at providing our clients with new and better ways to understand their risk to flood.

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

  • Working with very clever people – there’s nothing better than having a group technical discussion to try and solve a problem
  • The variety of projects to get involved with – developing new multi-peril event sets for catastrophe models, estimating new hydrological inputs to our hazard maps, researching new ideas and expanding our datasets, the list goes on!
  • Research opportunities – everyone here is keen on innovation which often leads to interesting research projects

Why did you choose a career in catastrophe modelling?

I have always been interested in natural hazards and managed to learn a lot about spatial datasets in my MSc degree so when I found out about the interesting work at JBA, it seemed like a great fit - and it was!

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

The Global Flood Event Set project. This was a long running project (2-3 years!) which involved a lot of people throughout the company and was a massive undertaking. It had lots of different phases to it, each trying to break boundaries and see what we could achieve. The first phase involved being a part of many technical discussions, including some in collaboration with the client, to define an initial methodology. Then we had to figure out how to make it computationally feasible which meant working on developing our software. And finally we had to roll out the process and generate the data globally which was a very complex project management exercise. All in all, it was a fascinating project that I learned a lot from.

Cameron Whitwham – Flood Mapping & GIS specialist

How long have you worked at JBA?

I’ve worked here for just over four years in the global flood mapping team. I finished my undergraduate university degree in June 2015, and by the end of August I had already started at JBA. I have always lived in the Skipton area so I didn’t even have to think about relocating for work!

What’s a standard day like in your role?

My working days can be very varied but they always involve coffee and my PC! We usually work on multiple projects at once, so I could be setting up a model for Canada in the morning, QC’ing and post-processing Mexico in the afternoon and building up the elevation model for California later in the day. There’s always plenty of opportunity to work on something new, and we are incredibly busy – with lots of work to deliver.

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

  • The variety of work
  • Working in a field that interests me
  • My colleagues

Why did you choose a career in flood mapping?

Coming fresh from completing a geography related degree, I wanted to apply my knowledge and skills towards something current and beneficial to other people. Flood risk management is a global issue affecting more and more people every day, and being part of a pioneering scientific company at the forefront of innovation was a big thing for me coming out of university.

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

In May 2016, I was asked to complete a small research and development project around high resolution digital elevation models in Canada. I was required to identify what data was available on a commercial license and recommend which I would use to run a hydraulic model.

The project involved obtaining the data, processing it myself and setting up and running the models. I came across some data types that I had no experience with, which challenged me to find new ways of processing. Some methods and data that I found have been used in projects that will be released to clients. It’s a wonderful feeling to know I’ve had a part in creating the end product.

Samantha Hewkin – software developer

How long have you worked at JBA?

I've worked here just over two years now in the software team.

What’s a standard day like in your role?

I work in a small team and we have a catch up every morning. We tend to work individually on different parts of a project, but the great thing about working in such a small team is that we can share ideas with each other across desks. There’s lots of work to get through, so I’m never short of something to do!

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

That’s a very difficult question as there hasn’t been anything yet that I haven’t enjoyed or found interesting!

I especially like how every project is different, and there is always the chance to learn something new, not just about programming in general, but also about the scientific side of the software.

Why did you choose a career in software development?

I really enjoy programming, especially more science-based software development. I like the challenges and problem-solving aspects of it, in addition to the sense of satisfaction when you finally get something to work.

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

I’m currently working a project developing a set of tools to convert our catastrophe models into another platform and it has been really interesting and enjoyable working out the best methods to do this- despite some challenges and setbacks, it has been very rewarding to get it working.

Do you like the sound of working with our team and supporting what we do? Check out the opportunities at JBA Risk Management.