American Surveyor Interview with Elaine Ball

Elaine BallShe is the world’s first in her field, and now Elaine Ball is making it her career to promote the profession of surveying to children across the globe.

The British businesswoman and Founder of Elaine Ball Ltd wasn’t always sure which path she would take after dabbling with an Equestrian career and working for oil companies. However, her true passion has always been, and still is, improving the standards of the geospatial industry.

In order to achieve this, Elaine Ball Ltd has recently launched an online sales and marketing course for the industry called The Geospatial Marketing Academy™ (GMA). The 10-week course is run via a self-study portal for Survey companies and Equipment manufacturers to learn the ropes and see what actually works in the industry through access to Elaine’s real life case studies. The GMA also provides access to a community of like minded professionals enabling individuals and businesses to network, grow and connect.

Can you tell us a bit about Get Kids Into Survey?

Get Kids Into Survey was launched in 2017 and aims to inspire the next generation of surveyors by providing education and resources on everything Geospatial.

Gkis ComicThe project began when myself and my sister Elly created a poster for the AGM of The Surveyors Association, UK. It was intended as a fun free resource to get the surveyors’ children informed about what their parents did for a living, and I suppose as they say, the rest is history.

Five years on and Get Kids Into Survey has expanded rapidly. Our hub of online resources for young surveyors and educators includes a selection of 20 exploration posters which are distributed globally, we have shipped over 50,000 posters to date, a series of lesson plans, colouring sheets, quizzes, and the GeoSquad comic book which is an action-packed, educational introduction to the world of survey.

We have three big aims with our Get Kids Into Survey programme. Number one, is to inspire future geospatial experts between the ages of 8-12. Number two is to educate parents and teachers about surveying, and finally number three, solve the recruitment issue which is endemic in the industry.

Why have you championed creating curriculum-themed survey activities that Geography teachers can use in the classroom?

Elaine RadioThe average age of surveyors globally is 55 and there is a real shortage of new recruits coming through the ranks. As a geospatial marketer I feel that part of my role, as well as supporting businesses in the industry, is to try and increase an interest into the world of surveying.

Launching Get Kids Into Survey, was all about giving young people a better insight into the lesser known areas of surveying – such as drone operations, measuring landslides and volcanoes, or even looking into crime scene investigations. These resources that we have created are there to be used and inspired, the wonderful thing about children is that they are curious. It’s my role as a marketer to ignite that curiosity and hopefully drive a life long interest.

How can those operating in the industry attract talent to ensure that geospatial careers are at the forefront of the younger generations?

I think we are all part of the jigsaw if we want to attract, retain and develop talent in the industry. Trade bodies also have a role to play in increasing awareness of the careers available and increasing the marketing around recruitment.

It should be part of every business’ ethos that operates within the industry to inspire children and teenagers to consider that step in a direction to a career in geospatial. There’s a big communications exercise that needs to happen to encourage more awareness of the industry as a whole, in particular the different types of roles. There is a perception that the work involved is ‘dirty’, when that is in fact, as we all know, a very small part of it. As a society we also need to look at encouraging women into STEM careers.

Gkis Elaine BallIt is cyclical – because the industry is perceived as male-dominated, that can put some women off, which in turn increases the proportion of men in the industry. We are seeing social media help as well, with female-led communities coming together to create a supportive environment. One great group is Women in Geospatial, a nonprofit born to promote gender-equality in the industry. We need to offer more support for these groups and start earlier in our encouragement of recruitment to the industry.

This being said, there is so much about Geospatial that is already in the national curriculum – Egyptian pyramids, space exploration, Mount Rushmore, the finding of the Titanic, study of Volcanoes and finding lost cities – however Geospatial as an industry isn’t covered, and all of these curriculum items are ideal to mention and build awareness from an early age.

Elaine, we know that you will be speaking at this year’s Geo Business 2022, London, UK in May. Can you tell us what you will be discussing at the event?

Yes of course! This year for one of my speaking slots, I will be speaking along with Alex McKee who is an Outreach Officer at Newcastle University, England. Alex works with the Geospatial Engineering department to inspire the next generation of geospatial experts, which is what our session is centred around.

Our session will touch on lots of the points that I mentioned to you earlier, but we will also talk about observations in the classroom. For example, I have noticed that due to very full schedules, teachers who are teaching children between the ages of 14-18 are unable to teach a topic outside of the curriculum. This is worrying if we think about the potential impact this can have on the longevity or our industry, especially as this is the age where they are hugely impressionable. However it is also why we have focused on creating curriculum-themed Survey activities that Geography teachers can use in the classroom.

We will also be talking about what resources are available for each age group, so that the audience can think about doing outreach in their old schools or even their children’s schools. We really want to be that driving force to show people within the industry how they can get involved whether that be through our ambassador scheme, taking on apprentices or offering work experience.

We know that you have recently launched your online sales and marketing business course for the industry called The Geospatial Marketing Academy™ (GMA), can you tell us a little bit about what it is, who it is suitable for?

Sure, The Geospatial Marketing Academy™ or GMA in a nutshell is a 10 week self-study portal for Survey companies and Equipment manufacturers. The programme is designed to teach those within the industry whether they be owners, directors, marketeers or those doing the marketing to increase sales quickly by enhancing enquiry quality within Geospatial Businesses. Our testimonials and client reviews have proven to increase confidence, trust, client attraction and financial results for survey companies and equipment manufacturers.

And finally, as the geospatial marketer what would you say your top three tips are to maximise your marketing efforts?

  1. Understand who your audience is – By knowing who you are talking to you can make sure that you are communicating your message to that particular audience in a way that they will understand and relate to. This will help you to attract the right kind of buyer, the profitable buyer (if that is what you want).
  2. Spend time with customers to understand problems – Spending time in the field allows you to understand the ins and outs of the business, where the pain or stress points are and how you can help to solve them.
  3. Take action – Understand and map out what needs to be done and start. Without starting, nothing will get done.

For more information on the The Geospatial Marketing Academy™ visit