WeCan Interview Series - Patty Mims

Blog Post created by AMillican-esristaff Employee on Jan 15, 2019

I hope everyone had a wonderful start to their new year!  For me, and probably everyone reading this blog, January is an exciting time to set intentions and start the year off in the way you want it to continue.  We all have goals that we want to achieve this year: to become healthier versions of ourselves, to excel in our careers, to volunteer in our communities, or maybe to treat ourselves or others with kindness at any opportunity.  I can't think of a better person to exemplify this than Patty Mims.


In November, Patty Mims, Esri's Director of Global National Government, led a 'Pay It Forward' Round Table Discussion for WeCan and Women's Geospatial Forum and encouraged all of the attendees to raise our hands and take on new challenges when we see opportunities in the workplace and in our daily lives.  I had the honor of interviewing Patty shortly after, and one thing she said stuck with me since then: "Be the person that jumps in and figures out the answer to the problem and you'll learn along the way ... sometimes we hold ourselves back because we haven't done things before or aren't experts ... but everyone is constantly learning."  


Enjoy our interview below!


Patty Mims  

What is your current position at Esri?

Director of Global National Government at Esri in Washington, D.C.


How did you find yourself at Esri?

I found myself at Esri for two reasons.  One, I was a GIS person: my undergraduate degree was in geography and my graduate degree also had a GIS concentration.  I spent the first portion of my career elsewhere, but had some friends who did work for Esri and they all mentioned how awesome it was.  Second, I met John Young, the former CIO of the CIA who worked at Esri, and he was such a dynamic, interesting, and thoughtful person.  In 2002, I decided to join Esri because I thought of it as this great and interesting company with good values and fascinating technology.  I realized John could be a great mentor and someone I could learn a lot from.


What interests you about GIS?

Funny enough, I can't imagine doing anything else!  I like the fact that GIS allows you to find answers, but also those answers aren't living in an Excel worksheet or a Word document.  The visual representation and the way we communicate with GIS is understandable and more dynamic and engaging. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but GIS is much more than a picture.  It is a better way to communicate and provide information to a lot of people so they can understand it and quickly make decisions.


What do you consider your top accomplishment?

A lot of times, we try to micromanage where we think our lives can go, but that path may not be something that we're really interested in.  I consider the fact that I went to school and got degrees in geography and did something I really love and found interesting, and that it worked out, my top accomplishment.  I really think if you follow and believe something you are passionate about, you will find a way to make a living doing this, no matter what.  It is fantastic to be a part of Esri, a company where growing is our mission: we help develop great GIS technology every day and make sure our customers are successful using that technology.


Is there anything about yourself you'd like to share?

While I encourage everyone to volunteer at work, I think everyone should do the same in their community.  I grew up being a big part of the 4H organization which was about building skills and volunteering.  Even now I am my daughter's girl scout leader. I would love to prioritize and do much more.


What is the best advice you've ever received, and what did you learn from that?

Listen to all opinions and then make your decision. I learned to ask people "What do you think we should do?"  Sometimes what I have in my mind isn't what that person would recommend back.  Other ideas may not necessarily be better or worse, but it becomes a learning opportunity for everyone involved.  It's important to ask for the thoughts and ideas of other people instead of forcing direction.


What is your advice to women in GIS or the Tech Industry?

Always be learning, always be curious.  If you're scared about something you don't know, other people are probably scared that they don't know either.  Be the person that jumps in and figures out the answer to the problem, and you'll learn along the way.  No one knows all the answers.  Sometimes we hold ourselves back because we haven't done things before or aren't experts, but GIS is a relatively new field and everyone is constantly learning.