Career Profile: Jeffrey M.Young

Jeffrey M. Young is the Regional Director of Sales for the Americas for Leica Geosystems GIS and Mapping, LLC, located in Denver, Colorado. He has over twentyseven years of sales, program, and project experience, including more than fifteen years in senior management roles of GIS corporations. An AAG member since 1977, Jeff holds a bachelor's degree in geography from Lock Haven State College in Pennsylvania and a master of arts in geography from Arizona State University. In his various roles in the private sector, Jeff has been responsible for GIS solution design and applications development, sales, business development, infrastructure and facility management applications, site selection studies, environmental and land use analysis, and training. Jeff resides in Centennial, CO, with his wife and two children.

This profile was published in 2004. Jeff is currently the Business Development Manager for Geospatial Solutions at LizardTech.

AAG: What aspect of the current state of professional geography is important to you?

Jeff: Even though practitioners like me have become enamored with geospatial technology, we need to maintain and improve the scientific aspects of the discipline. For example, we have staff with excellent skills in technology and core geographic competencies which act as a scientific reservoir for the products we develop.

AAG: What impact does an understanding of those concepts have on business?

Jeff: Our customers routinely investigate impacts and changes to the regions and neighborhoods we live in--ultimately to define and assess a spatial pattern or trend. I’m fortunate that the companies I’ve been a part of over the years have contributed to the public good in a profitable manner such as environmental assessments to improve how a public agency operates.

AAG: What has been your favorite project?

Jeff: It was actually my first commercial project management experience— an assignment [in 1979] with NUS Corporation under contract with the Department of Energy which occurred after Skylab’s orbital decline to earth where perceived risks were a concern. I redesigned a global risk analysis model and world-wide spatial database to analyze the risks associated with nuclear-powered deep space probes which were occasionally launched during that period. In effect, we designed a rudimentary pre-technology GIS of the globe capturing food sources, population, fisheries, political boundaries, and agricultural regions into a kind of algorithm that a nuclear physicist could map against the trajectory of a potential failed launch.

AAG: And after the risk model?

Jeff: I followed the path of a growing profession just as geospatial tools were coming into the marketplace. Somewhere along the way I stopped being a scientist and project manager and began developing business opportunities in the private sector.

AAG: What would you say you are now?

Jeff: Basically I sell products and capabilities and manage teams who sell geographic imaging and photogrammetry tools. With that said it remains important to have a scientific, engineering, and geography background to understand customer requirements.

AAG: What motivates your clients to invest in geographic technologies?

Jeff: The ultimate impetus that drives most of our procurements is the end user’s desire to understand change— changes in landscape, the urban-rural fringe, political borders, environmental boundaries, or areas of economic gain or loss as examples.

AAG: Changes over time. . .

Jeff: Ironically “time” these days is the most significant driver for those who acquire data systems and our associated software tools. Interestingly, the component of “time” has now begun to infiltrate geographic thinking, the tools being developed, and the problems being solved.

AAG: What could be one of the next frontiers for geography?

Jeff: Which frontier do you want to talk about? [laughs] There are plenty of problems to solve. I’d say overall, our frontiers relate to our professional responsibility to tackle some very serious and knotty global, regional, and local issues. There is a geographic context to all of the urgent problems the world faces, such a control of diseases, food production and distribution, water supply, sanitation, and governance.

AAG: How should we start?

Jeff: I would say the big challenge for geographic thinkers is to apply what we do intuitively with purpose. We need more “social entrepreneurs” making a difference and changing the world even from a business perspective where financial assets can be applied with patience and persistence.

AAG: What will you do next?

Jeff: Next I’d like to give some things back to the communities that have supported me. Eventually it would be fun to work in a university setting, maybe in an applied center or laboratory as a capstone to my career.

AAG: What changes in geography is have you seen from your position in the private sector?

Jeff: Back in 1979-80, I served on the “AAG Committee on the Visibility of Geography.” I don’t think we have a visibility issue anymore.

Dr. Patricia Solis, 2004