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Working with Evolving Technology
Product engineer talks about her career at Esri

This article as a PDF .

One of the things Esri employees enjoy about their career is the opportunity to work with evolving technology. In this interview, Sabine Barrera, a product engineer on the ArcGIS Mobile development team, talks about her role in product development.

photo of Sabine Barrera
Sabine Barrera, product engineer on the mobile team, uses a laser range finder to collect data while colleague Jianwei Dou edits the data using Esri's ArcGIS Mobile application for Windows.

How did you end up at Esri?

Barrera: I was working for Esri's international distributor in Colombia and applied for an internship at Esri so I could explore product development. Because I was already part of the company, I was able to come to Redlands for an extended internship. This was about 14 years ago. As a Windows user, I was building applications with Visual Basic, which was rare because UNIX was being used here at the time. They liked my work, and I've been here ever since.

What's a typical day like for you?

Barrera: When we are in development mode, my days are basically spent looking at the API that we are working on and helping our developers add functionality. I write samples for developers to see how our API works, how our work flows. Sometimes I'm able to find bugs, so I debug the problems and work with the developer to fix them. Other days, I go into our user forum to see what people are entering there, help them, and respond in the forum. Sometimes I need to talk to my team and figure out a problem a person is having if we're not able to reproduce it here. Basically, we need to support our developers outside.

What is it about your job that keeps things interesting?

Barrera: Esri is an incredibly active organization in terms of variety of products and how fast our product offerings are created. This means that we never stop learning and never stop being challenged. When I started at Esri, I joined the MapObjects team. Later, I worked with ArcGIS Desktop, and then I focused on map servers, which led me to work on the Web ADF team. I have been working on the ArcGIS Mobile team since the beginning of the project. This has required knowledge of ArcGIS Server, C++, C#, WPF, Objective-C, and Java programming. This is interesting because I am always facing challenges in technology.

What kind of skills does someone need if they want to join your team?

Barrera: You need to have some programming skills, because we basically provide an SDK so we have an API for developers to use to build their own applications. You need design skills, not only on the user interface side, but also on the API side. This is so that you can help developers add functionality and determine what the best way is to do it, what parameters we need to provide, etc. I also think that having a passion and excitement for working with this technology is one of the most important qualities that you need.

What does Esri offer to employees that sets it apart?

Barrera: What makes Esri a unique company is that it is a cultural gathering. We have people from all over the world. Also, people here are very knowledgeable. People share what they know and, because of that, everybody grows. The focus is to do your job well. I think this makes a big difference. Things have to be done and done well. I think that's very important, and that's what makes Esri a unique company.

What do you like about living in the Redlands area?

Barrera: When I first moved from Colombia to Redlands, it was a little bit difficult because I was coming from Bogotá, and there are about 8 million people. I was used to the rush and traffic and the culture and all this life. But once we moved here, we realized it was only 45 minutes to get to the ski resorts, one hour to get to the beach, one hour to Los Angeles, then we could come back to Redlands and sleep well. Also, there are plenty of biking and hiking trails that are amazing and beautiful. I love riding when I have a chance.

What message do you have for other experienced GIS professionals that might inspire them to work here?

Barrera: If you're a geographer and you like programming, or you are interested in geography, or you want to focus on development, this is the perfect place to work. Also, the work you do here and the tools you write are used by many people in the world, and you see that. For example, I've worked at the User Conference when somebody from South Africa comes and asks you a question; someone from Korea, Japan; from Iceland; from many places in the world, and you are able to help them. That makes it a very inspiring place to work.

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