Team Stories: Symon Porteous

By July 1st 2015

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Lovell Johns, we thought it would be a great idea for you to get to know more about the staff, and their background. Therefore, we have decided to run a series of team stories, which will help you to better understand the history of Lovell Johns, and the individuals that make the company what it is.

Team Stories: Symon Porteous

Unlike many of my colleagues I don’t have a background in mapping or Geographic Information Systems and really only thought about maps when in need of a Road Atlas.

I completed a 4 year BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree in Sheffield, then after a quick stint back home in Newcastle, took the plunge by heading down South for a job in Sales. This move took me to work for companies in Abingdon and Reading in Account Management and New Business Sales, travelling the length of the country meeting customers. Fortunately this move also allowed me to settle in Oxford, where I’m still based and call home.

After 10 years of Business to Business product sales I was looking for a new challenge and saw an advert for a GIS Sales role with Lovell Johns. The business was looking to add to their sales force by expanding beyond traditional cartographic sales into GIS or mapping software solutions. At the time the traditional markets of cartographic publishing were declining and new users of mapping were sought in new markets.

I had a couple of challenges when starting in 2005; firstly the challenge of learning a whole new language of map projections, spatial databases and seemingly endless acronyms for GIS and IT systems which characterize the industry. This is an ongoing challenge as the technology and systems evolve and it was fun getting into the Industry at a time when things were becoming more mainstream through the explosion of internet mapping and smart phones. Secondly, I needed to adapt to the idea of selling services and solutions rather than a physical manufactured product. This was actually a pretty quick transition and not the problem I had thought.

My role has expanded beyond the initial GIS role and now covers sales of our Cartographic Services to all market sectors other than our traditional Publishing base. I also manage the European Commission account which allows me to get involved in projects such as Soil Atlases and Marine web GIS portals. Working here requires a certain degree of adaptability as I also deal with market planning, marketing, quoting, new business sales and account management. The diversity of tasks and market subtleties keeps me on my toes and makes every week slightly different.

A key strength of the business is the people and I continue to rely on our mapping and GIS experts to support me in the sales process. Our business is quite different in some ways to when I joined 10 years ago but we’re in a good position and able to look ahead with confidence.

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