Roshni Romila Sharma

Project Manager & Analyst, FrontierSI

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Dream big. You can do anything.

What do you do?

I play with maps - I do spatial data management, a range of types of geospatial analysis, and writing reports about this. Some projects involve using GIS to understand environmental features, such as the terrain, contours and hydrology of the state of Victoria. Other projects are larger and involve working with a team of modellers and analysts who are building an automatic valuation model across Australia using AI and machine learning. I love the depth and breadth of projects that I can work on, the challenges they bring that mean I am always learning, and the expertise and approachability of the great people I work with.

Why did you choose this field?

I was doing a PhD in geosciences, looking at palaeoclimatic records in lake sediment archives. We were doing fieldwork in Cambodia, and I remember using GPS units to track where we were on the lakes, to be able to come back to the same location each day for our coring. It was a little switch that flicked in my brain through that experience, realising that in the middle of a remote location, where there was no technology or infrastructure, satellites could be used to produce precise and accurate location. That moment changed the course of my career, as I finished the PhD off as a research Masters, taking up a coursework Masters in GIS instead, which I completed while working as a Graduate GIS Analyst at an environmental consultancy. Ever since that moment, I've been fascinated by the power of location - the insights it can bring, the way it's applicable to every field and industry on the planet, and the way location intelligence can offer unique solutions to business problems. I love the tight-knit industry that we have, the sheer passion and dedication of the people who do spatial and surveying, and the incredible impact that our projects make for society, the planet and the economy.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Recently, I was selected for a Ministerial appointment to the Board of Surveying and Spatial Information with the NSW Government. If I had told my younger self that, in my early 30s, I would have two board positions and be working in a volunteer capacity to benefit the industry in a number of committees as well, alongside a full time job and part time studies, I don't think I would have believed that I would have the dedication, energy, commitment and support of my colleagues and family to be chasing my dreams of making a positive impact on the world in this way. When I was younger, I didn't really know what was possible, or what I really wanted to do with my career.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the balance between technical, human and conceptual skills applied to science and technology. I love the culture of the people in the industry, so passionate and dedicated. I love the ways in which, if you work hard, you can genuinely make a difference for people, for society, for the communities all around the world, for the environment, for the planet's future. I love the incredible stories and diversity of career pathways and life journeys of all of the people I meet in STEMM. I wake up looking forward to actually being able to make a real, tangible, practical difference in the world and for a better future.

Best advice for next generation?

Dream big. I don't say this to make you believe you can do anything you want to, because I already know that with hard work, dedication, creative thinking and perseverance you absolutely can. I say to dream big because once you think that something you could never imagine is possible, it's funny how the human brain works to create opportunities for this to come into being. Work out what your values are, what's important to you in your career and your life, and don't let anyone tell you that you need to choose between having a family and having a kick-ass career because I know so many women who have both, and more. Think deeply and constantly about how you want to leave the world a better place, what impact you want to have during your lifetime, and make the connections with people around the world that will help you do this - remember, you have a whole lifetime. It's amazing what can be achieved in one year, in five years, in ten years. You can't even begin to consider what incredible impact you will have in two decades from now - think about how much you've achieved and progressed in the past 5 years, and then imagine that in fast-forward overdrive. You can do anything.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again" - Nelson Mandela

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