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Eric Abrams: Setting Your North Star

Updated: Jan 23

In this Pathfinder episode, we speak with Eric Abrams about his journey in the Geospatial Industry. Eric joins us from his home in Ames, Iowa and shares his experiences going from a CAD technologist to now Senior Project Manager at GeoDecisions after a long and successful career at Iowa Department of Transportation. A love of family and a passion for all things geo led Eric to the consulting world as he enjoys talking about GIS, strategy and how to build a winning culture.

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As Eric has traveled along this career path, he has learned a few lessons that he shares with our Pathfinder community.

1) Set your programs north star by leveraging maturity modelling to understand your current state and show tangible outcomes to management that support requests for further investment in your program.

2) Create a federated technology and business model and organize central governance around trusted processes while empowering departments to do more with the technology.

3) Embrace Open Data. What is the worst thing that could happen? Put your data online and allow it to facilitate meaningful dialogue internally and with the public.


Passion - Eric's passion for the industry is rooted in his ability to see GIS as the natural integrator between systems and strongly advocates for the power of location data to be built in to all systems.

Action - He turned this passion into action by bringing a federated approach to GIS at Iowa DOT. By embracing a federated approach, it made it very easy to push data into systems and bring solutions to life faster that solved real business challenges. He now helps others bring these concepts online.

Tenacity - This achievement was not easy and he was tenacious in overcoming a culture of risk aversion, limited access to resources and a lack of understanding of the power of GIS. He focused on elevating GIS in the organization and having difficult conversations at a Director level. He recognized that selling the concept of GIS internally was best done by complimenting solutions rather then removing them.

Humility - This journey has taught Eric that it is ok to let go. He used to think that he alone had to do everything but recognized this thinking was becoming a bottleneck to the team's success. Letting go and trusting others has allowed him to focus on bigger and better direction for the enterprise while the amazing team does their amazing work.


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