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Employee Spotlight: John Braden; Taking Photography and his Career to Greater Heights

John Braden has held five different positions at SAM, two of which were created just for him. He started as a Marketing Specialist and has woven his passion of photography and video creation into becoming an expert on aerial photography collection and data processing. Now as a Project Manager in our Aerial Mapping service sector, Braden has applied his knowledge to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and fixed-wing based collection and processing of imagery, video, mapping, and LiDAR products for a wide range of clients and industries.

How has your experience at SAM allowed you to evolve into new positions? Can you describe the benefits of evolving within the same company?

Personally, I’ve had a unique path at SAM. Since joining SAM almost 11 years ago, I’ve held five different positions, two of which were created specifically for me (Multimedia Specialist and Imagery Lead). SAM has always given me the opportunity to grow and create my own path along the way. I was hired as a Marketing Coordinator, and within my first year, I was able to use my communications and photography background to bring new life to the company newsletter, run corporate photo and video shoots, and create new looks for our marketing collateral. By the second year, I was helping our Aerial Mapping team with project specific imagery and video editing. I saw an opportunity with Aerial Mapping to continue doing what I love and made the transition. Working and learning under Project Manager, Brandon Rench, I gained a new genuine interest in photogrammetry, LiDAR, and surveying in general. I eventually made team lead and ran orthophotography production here for about six years before transitioning into a Project Manager role in Fall 2019.

How has the technology at SAM helped your define your career in the geospatial industry?

Staying involved with the multimedia acquisition and production aspects of our department, while adding new and challenging roles to my job has given me the opportunity to define my interests and career goals. I enjoy learning new technologies and tackling new challenges with them. It’s never stale here, that’s for sure! The introduction of UAS to the geospatial toolbox has changed the game for the company. Since offering electric inspection using fixed-wing aircrafts and UAS, SAM has used photography and videography in ways we never had before. This investment in new technologies and the willingness to invest time into development of new processes and procedures have opened numerous doors for SAM in the geospatial industry. It is a very exciting time to be a part of this group.

When you take on a new project, how do you approach it for a successful outcome? How do you work with your team to ensure success?

What I really appreciate about my current role is the collaborative environment. Many projects I’ve worked on are new and unique projects where we are pushing the boundaries of what we’ve done previously, always moving forward and conquering bigger challenges. There are industry experts in almost every discipline here at SAM and pulling together large, collaborative teams for some proposals has worked brilliantly. You can tell those at SAM have fostered the idea that we are all a team and grow together. As a new Project Manager, specifically, I can’t overstate the importance of that in a position.

SAM is the nation’s largest, combined geospatial and construction services firm and the leader in our industry. Our culture of learning, inclusion, and technical innovation allows us to attract and invest in the industry’s top talent. To learn more about how to start your career path at SAM visit our Careers page.