Karen Thompson provides us with an insider’s view of life in the maxgeo hosting team

It takes a lot of different skills to be a database administrator in the maxgeo Hosted Data Management team and Karen Thompson has them all. The former Scot has created a home in Perth, and after joining maxgeo in August 2020, is carving out the next stage of her technical career.

Having completed a Bachelor of Earth Sciences (with honors) from the University of Glasgow, Karen worked as a geologist in Scotland for a year before deciding she needed to be somewhere warmer. So she headed to Australia armed with a backpack and a working holiday visa.

“In early 2007, after traveling around Australia for a while and living in a hostel in Perth I met a fellow geologist. She suggested I come and work in the mines. I was in the Pilbara a week later, working on an RC rig as a field geologist!” Karen recalled.

She later took on roles as an exploration geologist, project geologist then underground geologist.

After a while Karen’s desire to have a pet dog made her decide to quit FIFO work, so she found a job as a database administrator (DBA) at a small consultancy in West Perth where she worked for nine years before finally finding her way to maxgeo.

Each of our hosted clients has a database administrator in the hosting team assigned to them so that they form a strong understanding of the client and their needs.

Being a DBA in maxgeo’s hosting team means that Karen needs to be able to perform a range of duties to completely support her clients, including:

  • Data migrations for new clients or existing clients that are becoming hosted – moving all their data into DataShed, whether it’s from another database or in masses of spreadsheets.
  • Setting up LogChief profiles and MxSync connections, so that our clients can load their logging data into their database at any time, without the help of a DBA.
  • Validating daily data (and importing it when necessary), and correcting any mistakes.
  • Auditing the client’s database – making sure that all data required by the mines department is present, there are no errors, coordinates are consistent, lease IDs are present, end of hole depths are reported correctly, and so on.
  • Grid transformations – to bring coordinates into one consistent system.
  • QAQC reporting either by batch, monthly, or at the end of the drilling program, depending on client requirements.
  • Client liaison and support – dealing with any problem that comes up.

Karen’s previous experience has given her the varied skills needed for the job, and she has received several days of training to ensure she is proficient with all of maxgeo’s software, systems and processes.

“It helps to be a geologist that has worked in the field because you know what all the data means. All of maxgeo’s hosting team are geologists that have previously worked in the field. We also need SQL skills, because we manipulate the data in the back end using SQL. Finally, our team members need to have people skills because customer service is very important”, Karen explained. Small to medium mining and exploration companies can especially benefit from outsourcing their data management as this option saves them time to concentrate on growing their core business.

“I like how varied the role is, and we meet all sorts of different clients which I enjoy. We also get to be involved in all sorts of different projects and commodities across the globe.”

“Another great aspect of the role is working with people in our other offices around the world. For example, I am working with one of the DBAs in our Johannesburg office at the moment because she is helping to onboard a new hosted client.”

While travelling is in her blood, Karen is content living in Perth with her husband who is a surveyor and their beautiful dog Nica; although she tries to see her Scottish family at least every three years.

“Perth is home now. The only things I really miss about Scotland are my family, the green fields… and being able to get to Europe in an hour.”

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