by Kristin M. Distel
Geography alum Tim Lo ’07 and his company are applying “the Science of Where” to help people and the environment around the world.
“My studies at OHIO helped me to understand the scientific way to fight deadly disease transmission, trace chemical spills, preserve habitats for endangered species, and save lives in natural disasters,” says Geography alum Tim Lo ’07.
Lo has a prestigious position with Esri, an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software and geodatabase management applications. Esri, or Environmental Systems Research Institute, does groundbreaking work in many areas, including sustainability, disease prevention, conservation, and education.
He remarks that he especially appreciates the company’s ability to put complex technology to use for the good of the public.
“In one project,” Lo notes, “we made a public web map guide for wheelchair users find the best route to get to tourist attractions in Hong Kong. It directs them to lifts and avoids steps.”
“It’s hard to imagine any company that has done more for conservation planning than Esri,” says David Yarnold, Audubon president and CEO.
“The Science of Where” is Esri’s recently adopted motto, Lo explains. “GIS is well known as a technology but seldom as a science. Putting GIS technologies to further use and connecting them with people are our core missions at Esri.”
Lo is an Assistant GIS Solution Manager in Esri’s Sales and Marketing Department.
“We are connecting GIS technologies to people—meeting with government officials and enterprise executives, delivering technology demonstrations, and designing GIS solutions that solve their problems, such as making web and mobile apps. It’s a blend of geography, technology and business,” Lo says.
One aspect of Lo’s managerial responsibilities is to help junior colleagues advance their own careers. He explains that he helps newer employees “prepare presentations, make business plans, test new software, and respond to customers’ inquiries.”
A Successful Plenary Speech Opens Doors
Lo’s career at Esri has been marked by several important milestones. Perhaps the most memorable of these, he notes, is the invitation he received to serve as the plenary speaker at the Asia Pacific User Conference in Hong Kong in 2015.
Over 500 participants attended, Lo recalls.
“I was the presenter in the plenary session, which took place right after Esri founder Jack Dangermond made his keynote speech. He read through our presentation and exchanged many valuable ideas with us. It was an amazing experience to work with the world’s greatest minds in GIS,” Lo says.
An additional achievement during his employment has been the remarkable growth of his customer base. When he began working for Esri, his assigned client list consisted of only one customer.
“After years of work, our customer base has grown to over thirty clients, including transportation, environmental protection, water, gas and electricity, law enforcement agencies, and others. The revenue has grown significantly.”
‘I am Well-Equipped with Solid GIS Knowledge’
Lo credits his education at OHIO with his successful job placement and career at Esri.
“The coursework at OHIO was quite similar to the real-life work situations. Most assignments were project-based, solving particular problems, working in teams, and finding resources,” Lo states. “I am now able to unlock problems and figure out different solutions. This is important at work of any level; you are hired to solve problems.”
Because of his OHIO coursework, Lo notes, “I am well-equipped with solid GIS knowledge.”
He especially appreciates the one-on-one assistance and instruction he received as a student. Dr. Jeff Ueland was a particularly valuable mentor, Lo explains.
“We exchanged many great ideas, and he always welcomed our questions and challenges. We had long chats and spent quite some time digging into research problems. This opened my eyes to GIS both as a science and as a technology. Starting from there, I was determined to work in this field when I graduated.”
Fondly Recalling Days in Athens
Like many international students, Lo hoped to find a way to acclimate quickly to his new environment at OHIO. He encountered many people who were eager to help him feel at home.
“When I first arrived in Athens as a foreign student,” Lo states, “Dr. Yeong-Hyun Kim from the Department of Geography was my mentor. She encouraged me to actively take part in the local community by going to Donkey Coffee, reading the Athens News, and trying talk to people. It worked! I made many friends in Athens and got used to life in Athens faster than I ever expected.”
Indeed, Lo made long-lasting friendships with other students. He remains close with alum Tommy Karo Lee ’06, a psychology major who works as a sales manager in a medicine trading company in Hong Kong. Lo has also maintained a friendship with alum Wendy Wan ’07, a communications major who serves as a public relations manager at a Hong Kong cosmetics company.
Lo also notes that he remembers and misses uniquely Athens experiences, such as the annual Halloween Block Party and grabbing a quick lunch at Burrito Buggy.
What stands out most in his mind from his time in Athens, however, is a service project. Lo spent spring break of 2006 helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“I joined a group of youths from First United Methodist Church. We all packed into an OHIO minivan for a 25-hour drive to New Orleans. We helped the locals clean up trash and rebuild their houses. It was the first time I witnessed the aftermath of a disaster. It taught me the importance of a caring heart and a helping hand,” Lo recalls.
‘Taking Up New Challenges’
His position at Esri is the result of a good deal of hard work and dedication, as well as a strong foundation at OHIO.
“Many people look for easy tasks and wish to dwell in a comfort zone. But leaving home and studying at OHIO was all about taking up new challenges. I am thankful to have met many good mentors, professors, and classmates at OHIO who supported me all the time,” Lo states.
One of the most important lessons he learned at OHIO is the importance of a positive attitude.
“No matter whether you succeed or not in the end, you have gained fruitful knowledge and invaluable experiences as the reward,” he remarks. “This attitude helped me discover many opportunities at work. It has also opened many great frontiers that I’d never before imagined.”