Justin Holman is CEO of Aftermarket Analytics, where he leads efforts to develop cutting edge sales forecasting and inventory optimization technology for the Automotive Aftermarket. Prior to joining Aftermarket Analytics, Justin managed corporate consulting for the Strategy & Analytics division at MapInfo Corporation, leading major projects for retail clients including The Home Depot, Darden Restaurants, Bridgestone-Firestone, Sainsbury’s and New York & Company. Before that, Justin served as Vice President of Software Development at LogicTools, now part of IBM's supply chain application software group. Justin holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and an Executive Management certificate from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.


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  • Michael Scott 12 years ago

    Hi Justin,

    This should be a fun set of posts! Four thoughts:

    1) Work is underway on a core curriculum for 2-year post-secondary schools at the GeoTech Center
    2) You mention the divisions in (academic) geography being too wide and the wheels turning too slow. This is true, but for good reason. Major institutions like Universities shouldn’t be blowing in the wind…they should be a lot like turning a battleship – slow and deliberate. Having said that, I would suggest that getting agreement from geospatial professionals in business about what is critical and what is not from a degree program is just as difficult.
    3) A university education should not be focused on job training. As a student, if you are spending your time in college focused on what job you want when you’re done, you’re doing it wrong. Having said that, I firmly believe that Universities do a disservice to their students if they ignore market and technology trends in curriculum and methods. But it’s a fine line that must be re-examined all the time.
    4) One more career track – GIS Manager

    Thanks for putting the post together and I look forward to reading the responses and the follow-ups.

    • Justin 12 years ago

      Thanks, Michael! Hope you saw the first one on GIS Software Developer: http://www.justinholman.com/2012/03/29/spatial-career-guide-5-key-skills-for-future-gis-software-developers/

      (1) I saw David DiBiase’s piece on the GTCM yesterday. Interesting. I may do a separate post on the topic.
      (2) I agree to a point. Shouldn’t blow in the wind, shouldn’t stay the same for 200+ years. Battleship is the right pace but I would argue that most Universities move significantly slower.
      (3) I agree that there should be a balance between using college as an opportunity to prepare for a career and to acquire knowledge that may not lead to a career. The problem is that Universities promise to prepare you for high-paying careers but don’t actually follow through, as you mentioned. This is dishonest.
      (4) GIS Manager is an interesting suggestion – I think for GIS Manager you still need to identify what spatial path you want to pursue. But, I’ll spend some more time thinking about it.

      Thanks again! Hope to hear more comments from you along the way.

      Best, Justin

      • oane 12 years ago

        is there way in a research level to for a person with a Dbms background to merge with Geo spatial ( i am new in geo spatial ) ????

        • Justin 12 years ago

          I would say that, yes, in general someone with a database background can find a place in the geospatial world. Can you provide a bit more info on your background and where in particular you might want to go within geospatial? Thanks, Justin.

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  • Ravi Dhungel 12 years ago

    This is really interesting post for me. Thanks Justin for your insights and Michael for your constructive criticism. I would like to add few more abstractions I have been analyzing since i start my graduate study last year. Its all about this technology and how instructional paradigm, and industries are thriving to achieve the common goals but in vagueness and disparities.
    First all let me illustrate my findings.
    1. GIScience is predominantly taught in the academic environment as a course in Geography after the inception of the word by Dr. Goodchild in 90’s. Although GIScience itself is growing and geospatial technologies promotes these technologies to solve multidisciplinary problems, GI Science is still evolving and developing. Most european countries and very few American schools use the word geo-informatics that addresses the problem domain far better than most universities.
    2. As Justin said, Geography is vague..seamlessly vague, typically they teach GI Science courses like Remote Sensing,GIS,Cartography,Visualization etc, Water resources courses like Hydrology,Policy etc., Climatology courses, Organic Food, Human Geography, Natural Hazards,Sustainable Development etc. ..that makes the Geography and its inherently interdisciplinary. This is the strength and weakness for GI Science. Everything occurs in Geography.
    3.The students who are in Geography department and who likes to take courses in GIS have two different objectives, one who just needs an application of GIS technology for the spatial analysis of their problem domain; literally every academic department enjoys the spatial analysis and geostatistics and others who loves to explores advances of GI science and are looking forward to be Geo-spatial professionals.
    4.Although the Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis have been in the academia since early 50’s, there has not been substantial development in this academic discipline because most geographers have little computing knowledge. With the advent of computing and availability of computer resources, Geographers are in the dilemma of opportunities and challenges that existed in the edges of swords.
    5. Interestingly , Spatial data is considered as one of the largest data sets that needs thorough understanding of high power computing knowledge and analysis. Geographic problems are computationally intensive. This emphasize the geographers to cross the boundaries and move towards the computation.
    6. Undergrad and grad students in geography realize the bottleneck of the technologies they are pursuing in the department when they are about to graduate, most jobs expects the students to have programming knowledge. Although , they are using one of the most sophisticated software like ArcDesktop or ERDAS IMAGINE but they lack the basic programming ,design and database skills.
    7.Although ESRI and ERDAS products are defacto standards in the teaching paradigm at US universities in Geography department, with the rapid deployment of the new versions of these software, instructors and students are finding difficult to cope with challenges underlying with the advances in the computer science and industries.
    8.Interestingly, although the employers knows that they cant get the peoples with both of these backgrounds (GI Science and Computer Science), I doubt how these vacancies are filled up!! and not surprisingly if anyone has both of these skills, he would love to go for generic IT service providers rather that geospatial industry. Even ,if we see the hiring salary, IT easily surpasses geospatial industry.

    Now with the change in computing paradigm and development in Geo-spatial industries, I think we need to add following career Tracks.
    ofcourse GIS Manager
    GIS co-ordinater
    Geovisualization and Analytics
    GIS Planner
    GIS cloud Engineer
    GIS System Administrator

    Well, with the changes in the computing paradigm in the recent years, its very likely that the geospatial industry will move towards cloud computing environment. if that’s the case, what would be the impact ? Hopefully the funda’s and conceptual aspect of GI science will remain unchanged.

    And lastly, no-matter how things are moving in academic, Geo-spatial industry would continue to grown in the coming years with the advent of location based services, GPS , and satellite imageries, the prospects of GI professions looks better than ever.

    However, being a graduate student double majoring in GI science and Computer Science, I can peep problems through both of my eyes yet i feel like programming would not only be the basic tools for GI science people but for every academic discipline and obviously, the Geography department should be focusing more on computational courses and students should take the courses in computer science departments.

    • Justin 12 years ago

      Ravi – thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. You raise a lot of interesting issues and I can’t address them all here. I would agree with one point – programming has become a prerequisite skill and all serious GIS folks should acquire at least a basic understanding.
      Thanks again! -Justin

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    • Virginia 5 years ago

      Hi Justin,
      It has been so helpful to read through some of your blog posts/discussions, so thanks for taking the time to write them! I am at a turning point in my life, in that I am seeking to change careers, or rather return to GIS after quite some time away and very little experience in it to begin with. I graduated with a BA in Geography back in 2006 & immediately started working as a GIS Technical Aide for a year at a city. For the most part, I was assigned to storm drain & wastewater maintenance & updates as a result of the city’s acquisition of county land. I also completed short-term projects with the utility, planning, & public safety departments. I loved the job (it has been my favorite as of yet because of the work climate & work/life balance), but I didn’t feel like the technology/computer science aspect of it came naturally to me which was discouraging & led me to pursue other passions a year later. Since leaving the field, I traveled extensively and have worked in education (preschool, TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and most recently, special education). While I love teaching, the specialties I have experience in do not offer the best work/life balance amongst other issues, which is why I have decided to change careers. Since leaving the GIS field, I am completely out of the loop. Yesterday, I registered for the free trial version of ArcMap Pro and I had no clue what I was doing; it was embarrassing! I am somewhat familiar & remember some of the terms being thrown around, but not nearly enough to make myself useful in the application of GIS today. I have thought about enrolling in computer programming & GIS classes to test the waters again. My thoughts were to take Python, SQL, Adobe, & Intro. to GIS since it’s been so long that I last took that Intro. class back in 2005! I am apprehensive about taking a programming course because I feel as though I am not as computer savvy as others. I am good with language though, and can speak a second language; crossing my fingers & toes that that would serve me well to learn a programming “language”. I would love to utilize GIS in a position similar to the one I was previously in with the city (utilities & public safety), while eventually taking on more responsibility and challenging, meaningful work. I recently did some research on job openings, using different titles besides GIS, since that is just a supplementary skill for many positions. It seems there are very few openings across the nation, compared to when I was looking back in 2006. Also, it appears that most of the positions require extensive experience. Has there been a decline in jobs requiring the use of GIS? Is there a saturation of GIS-trained professionals? What would you suggest to someone considering re-entering the GIS field after quite some time away? I would appreciate any insight you have to offer. Thanks so much!

      • Justin 5 years ago

        Hi Virginia,
        Yes, the GIS world has changed a lot in the past 13 years. Private sector GIS work has mostly been subsumed within departments called Data Science, Analytics, IT or similar. Local governments still have GIS positions but they’re constantly under budget pressure so not many openings and often they’re combined with IT-like responsibility. If you don’t feel particularly computer savvy you’ll have a very long and difficult road ahead of you to catch up and you’ll always need to be learning to stay current. If that doesn’t sound fun I would recommend against it. You don’t need to be a GIS expert to do meaningful work. Instead, consider finding a job with an organization doing important stuff and find a way to contribute and grow. Maybe just a regular administrative job in a local planning or government office? Or maybe a teaching credential in geography and/or a foreign language? I don’t mean to turn you away from GIS but if you don’t think of yourself as computer savvy it may take a few years before you have developed a sufficient skill set to get a good job. And if you don’t enjoy the work you won’t be successful. Hope this helps.
        Best wishes,

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  • Gerry James 12 years ago

    I think this set of posts has promise to be very interesting and useful. I would like to provide one other thought regarding potential career paths in geo-spatial. Geo-spatial consulting is a very important career path with the ever changing use of technology in this field. Not to mention the willingness to use geo-spatial technologies in sectors that previously wouldn’t have considered this approach. Granted consulting is typically a path taken after some experience is attained, however, it is good for those considering a career in geo-spatial to be aware of this potential path.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents. I look forward to reading the upcoming posts.

    • Justin 12 years ago

      Hi Gerry – thanks for the comment. I agree that it’s good for young people to be aware of opportunities in consulting. I don’t think a separate blog post is warranted though in that the first step, as you acknowledge, would most likely be to develop expertise within one of these six paths. Thanks again! Best, Justin

      • innocent charles 9 years ago

        hello am very intereristng to this course of gis I wish to get scholarship for master am from Africa tanzania

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