What I've learnt: a quick interview with Elaine Ball - Founder of 'Get Kids into Survey"

What I've learnt: a quick interview with Elaine Ball - Founder of 'Get Kids into Survey"

Elaine Ball, creator and visionary of Elaine Ball Ltd, a global business and marketing evangelist for the Geospatial Industry. One part marketer, one part biz development, one part strategic thinker and one part superhero! Elaine has dedicated 20 years to international marketing and business development for the Geospatial industry. With a background in manufacturing of laser survey equipment sold to multiple industries including; Mining, Quarry, Oil & Gas, Aviation, Transportation, Forestry and Surveying. You name it; she markets it.

Can you describe yourself in 10 words?

Happy, excitable, fun, determined, charismatic, leader, energetic, gutsy, trustworthy, hardworking! I also asked my team and family for words they would use to describe me and overall the words weren't dissimilar! They included positive, bonkers, loud, sponge-like (I hope they meant my ability to absorb information!), nudest (that was from my sister — don't ask!!)

Tell us a little bit about yourself & your background?

I live in Yorkshire with my husband (a tree surgeon) 2 horses, 2 dogs, 3 chickens, and a flock of sheep! Horse mad, been riding since I was like 4 years old. Always had horses -they are a big part of my life. Business minded. Always wanting to strive forwards - be better all the time. Always learning. Love marketing since I found out what it was when I started working at my dad's business in 1997. Love the Geospatial Industry — it's close to my heart. I get the passion from my dad who is a Hydrographer and Mine Surveyor and my hero.

So, can you tell us why you originally set up Get Kids Into Survey?

So, it all came on the back of my marketing consultancy, with The Survey Association (UK) asked me to put leaflets into the packs for the AGM. I said they wouldn't work, however I was working with a cartoonist at the time so I said "how about I do a poster for the surveyors to give to their children" and it all began.

The Antarctic Poster came next; we produced around 1500 and it went viral. I put them online so folks could order them free with free postage and my bill came to £1500 - I said to myself "I'm going to go bust at this rate" so this is where it all started to gain shape and its gone from strength to strength, engaging with the learning, schools and associations around the world — its been an amazing journey so far.

What are the objectives and goals of Get Kids Into Surveying?

Vision (what does the future look like): Inspiring future geospatial experts.

Aim (what I want to achieve): to make the wider public aware of surveying, what it is and what surveyors do.

Mission (how do we get there?): Bringing young people into the exciting world of survey through pioneering content and engaging experiences.

We have three (arms to our model) legs:

  1. Tripod leg 1: Education
  2. Tripod leg 2: Community 
  3. Tripod leg 3: Commercial

What is the best thing about your role?

People! I love dealing with people and making their life better even if I'm selling them sponsorship! What it gives them and when they see how it works - it's very exciting (Marketing and Get Kids into Survey — it's the ultimate combination)

What obstacles or unexpected circumstances have you had to deal professionally?

When I started out, being the boss's daughter in the early days hence why I'm always finding new ways to improve - it made me very determined.

Also Bollo-tics (politics and bollocks) - unfortunately the survey industry can be very political which is silly and gets me very frustrated. I am also constantly spinning lots of plates however it's all in the process which is always evolving!

What's the most fun you've had at work?

Going to GeoBusiness in capes and handing out boxer shorts!! We had people coming up to us to get more!! It was very funny as well as odd! Who knew underwear would be so popular! It was to raise awareness of 'standing out from the crowd' We shifted 250 boxer shorts and we did stand out! We do like to get up to stuff! Making work fun!

What advice would you offer to parents regarding surveying as a profession for their children?

It is a whole new world! From the outdoors types who like adventure to those who like gaming; surveying brings a wide choice of different opportunities only those know about 'under the covers' — it's almost like a secret club which you could 'flip-it' from a marketing perspective and ride the coat-tails of the 'secret career' - ooohhh I feel a campaign idea coming on!!! (see always thinking)

Its open to all! Men and Women who build, measure, find. From map-making to those who find the Loch Ness monster to diving into deep caves like the Chile Mine Disaster — its amazing! Explore the opportunities! Don't be afraid!

So how can Built Intelligence and our readers/community help?

Find and help us build our Brand Ambassadors community - those folks who are passionate about what they do and can shout about it at a local level - we can't do it on our own. It is a community thing, so having ambassadors who can spread the word is key. Anyone can register to be an ambassador and we then supply them with lots of resources all focused on Getting Kids into Survey.

Become a sponsor, have your very own character and become part of the movement! Sponsors can go wild with their own special character, getting emotionally attached, which reflects in the marketing. As kids you will remember things because of the emotional connection you had! This is no different.

Sponsors benefit in two ways:

  1. Helping us raise the profile of Get Kids into Survey - it says what it does on the tin!
  2. Indirectly selling themselves as others in the industry are intrigued, inquisitive to know what this bear is? Robot bird? Kangaroo? Simple marketing is key.

Generally spread the word! Our mission is to bring young people into the exciting world of survey through pioneering content and engaging experiences.

If you could be a superhero who would it be and why?

Hmm... Can I have two?! Either Wonder Woman - Strong, positive, go-getter, female: or a Unicorn - to have the magical ability to heal and share love, positivity as a symbol of strength.

Final words of advice

Build a strong network! This is your foundation to move forward. You may be scared - but just do it anyway!


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