Get to know Propeller’s world-class team in our ongoing employee spotlight. Today, we talk to Gef Soriano, who serves as GIS specialist on the data success team. Gef is based in Manila, Philippines.
What do you do at Propeller?
I’m a GIS specialist on the data success team that works on all the data uploaded into the Propeller Platform. We turn customers’ drone photos and ground control data into great data that helps them measure and manage their sites. I also do technical support whenever a customer has questions. We’re the first line of defense if they’re any issues with using the Platform.
What’s your career background?
I graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in geodetic engineering. Part of that curriculum included doing licensure exams, so I am also a licensed surveyor. We are trained to gather physical data using many different methods and tools, from Total Station to lidar to GIS to photogrammetry, and process and present them in useable formats to others who need accurate measurements.
After I graduated, I worked on some government projects. (This is common for grads like me because the University of the Philippines is a state university.) The one I was part of was mapping the country’s river systems with lidar. It did both aerial surveys by plane and crews on the ground setting up base stations, literally in the mountains.
I heard about Propeller from colleagues who were apart of that lidar project, especially Jara, who was one of the first people on Propeller’s data success team a couple years ago.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in Quezon City, the largest city of the Manila metro area.
Before working at Propeller, what’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve held?
On that lidar project, the weirdest thing that happened was when we were traveling one day on our normal three- to four-hour drive into the mountains. Suddenly, there were two motorcycles that tried to overtake us on the road.
We suspect that those were communists who were living in the mountain areas. We ended up speeding up to 160km (100mph) just to avoid them. Good thing our driver was a real professional.
What’s your favorite Propeller memory?
It would be our retreat to Thailand last year. I was listening on one ear about all the new stuff that was to come with the company and on the other ear I was listening to all these people who I got to meet in person for the first time, hearing all their stories. During all of it, my eyes are on my laptop to maintain our customer support. Customer support never sleeps.
It was really a fun time. It was my second time ever out of the country. My first one was when they sent me to Sydney to do my onboarding when I first started. Propeller has taken me all over the world. I look forward to more adventures.
Any talents, secret superpowers, or fun facts about yourself to share?
We have this saying here in the Philippines: If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play basketball, play chess. But it’s funny because I love both. I love the physicality of basketball, but at the same time I love games of the mind. I’m good at both.
If you could be any piece of technology, what would you be and why?
I’d pick a cell phone because it’s continuously advancing. You never know what to expect on a new release. It’s now a necessity of modern life. It also helps me as I work remotely and supporting our Platform users behind the scenes. I’m a shy person, so it’s really great to work behind the scenes.
Do you have an office nickname? If so, what is it and how did you get it?
Nope, from the start everyone called me Gef.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I used to answer “photographic memory” for this. But after discussing it with Shaun and Alf during a get-to-know-you session over hypotheticals in Thailand, I’m going to tweak it. I’d like a selective photographic memory. I don’t want to have to remember all the hard or sad moments as if they happened yesterday. I’d like to filter those out.
What’s one thing you wish people understood better about Propeller?
The Propeller Platform is a real breakthrough technology. But data-gathering can also be tricky—especially when you’re using “new” technology like drones. There’s always room for improvement in the field, especially as hardware advances. We learn from what our customers want and why they use this technology and why they chose Propeller. There’s always more to be learning with new technology. Especially on the data team. All the stuff I learned during my onboarding is obsolete. Every month, we’re discovering new tricks and solving problems as a team.