Jobs at DOC: Ann De Schutter, Geospatial Analyst

Department of Conservation —  24/07/2015

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Ann De Schutter, Geospatial Analyst in Christchurch.

Ann on the Kepler Track.

Stunning views on the Kepler Track

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

Helping everyone out with their mapping and spatial data needs. This includes basic dots on a map, but can also be bigger projects like 1080 support and analysis.

We also get to go out and train people in the applications that we build and provide GPS and basic GIS support.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Supporting field staff in their work and capturing data where work has been done and could be done to increase conservation.

Ann climbing up to the Gillespie Pass.

Climbing up to the Gillespie Pass

The best bit about my job is:

The variety, people and opportunities. While studying back in Belgium I was scared to get a job stuck in an office somewhere in a populated area. Little did I know how lucky I would be with my first job.

Ann De Schutter on Maud Island.

Track cutting on Maud Island

I have lovely colleagues, and I really enjoy the diversity of inspiring people I get to talk to and help out every day.

Getting out of the office and into the field is extremely interesting. I love seeing what conservation work is happening out there and how my work helps field staff and conservation. I’ve also added a lot of interesting walks to my bucket list by creating maps.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

Volunteering on Maud Island and working with the rangers to do some plant surveying. That is when I realised this is the place I want to work.

Since then I’ve had many amazing moments at DOC, including some stunning helicopter flights.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

Neil Bolton, because of the work he’s done for DOC all over the country and the stories that he tells about it.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

I am from the Flemish part of Belgium (the country of beer, waffles, chocolate and fries);

I had never seen ‘Belgian biscuits’ before I came to New Zealand;

French fries were actually invented in Belgium; and we have three official languages: Flemish (dialect of Dutch), French and German.

In 2011 we matched the record of Cambodia for the time taken to form a new democratic government after an election, 353 days.

Another thing most people don’t know is that I came to New Zealand with the intention of only staying for 4 months – it’s almost 2 years later now, and I don’t intend to leave any time soon.

My best ever holiday was:

The one I’m currently turning into my new way of living in New Zealand.

I just love all the outdoor possibilities here, along with the lifestyle and mindset of the people. I also love being able to escape from people whenever and wherever you want to.

Ann on the summit of Mount Taranaki.

Reaching the summit of Mount Taranaki

My greatest sporting moment was when:

I walked up to the summit of Mount Taranaki last year. Earlier that year I walked up to the crater lake of Mount Ruapehu and rode down. I’ve always been intrigued by volcanoes. Mount Taranaki was the first volcano I actually walked up from bottom to top. No doubt there will be many more to come.

The thing I’m most looking forward to in the next six months is:

My friends from Belgium coming over and joining the campervan club here in New Zealand (don’t worry I’ll teach them to pull over when needed).

In my spare time:

I love filling my time with travelling and discovering new places I haven’t been to yet. My preferred modes of transport are walking, snowboarding or, more recently, paragliding.

Ann's first paragliding flight.

My first paragliding flight, what an amazing feeling!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is: 

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

Just do it! Travel to the other side of the world by yourself and see what happens.

In work and life I am motivated by:

My friends and family and the beautiful outdoors and its quietness.

Walking up a steep hill/mountain/volcano and being rewarded by an amazing view at the top just makes me feel so small and gives me so much energy.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Get out there and see what you have! New Zealand is an amazing place, let’s continue protecting it.

Ann at the Ohau snowfields.

Living so close to the mountains, I’m loving it!

Question of the week

What was your best subject at school?

Geography. From when I was very young I was already very interested in the weather, mountains, the world… and especially answering the ‘why?’ questions.