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Introducing Eugene Snyman, our South African based SQL Specialist for DataShed.

Eugene is a product of South Africa.

The wide-open plains have instilled a love of the natural world and of animals. That passion, combined with an acknowledged intelligence and problem-solving skills, has enabled Eugene to forge a satisfying career in geology, spatial analysis, and data management.

Born to an Afrikaner father and Italian mother, Eugene speaks five languages… or six if you count hand gestures. He was raised in an area between Pretoria and Johannesburg now called Centurion, which was partly countryside back then.

“When we initially moved to that area there was nothing nearby… from my back stoep I remember seeing Impala (antelope) on the horizon”, Eugene said.

Showing an aptitude for natural sciences in high school, Eugene was awarded a bursary from Anglo American to study geology at the University of Pretoria. The bursary meant that his varsity fees were paid for and Eugene worked for the company in the summer holidays, then was guaranteed (or obliged, depending on how you look at it) to work with the company for two years after graduation.

For that reason, summer holidays were spent in the deepest underground gold mine in Africa, at that point called Western Deep Levels which was 3.5km deep. Eugene learned an important career lesson – life underground was not for him!

Just as Eugene was graduating with a Geology degree with specialisation in Exploration, Anglo American split from De Beers. Eugene found himself in the De Beers portion of the company and was sent to the northern Karoo (aka “the middle of nowhere”), to search for diamonds. Although he didn’t find any, it was a fascinating experience.

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Eugene’s African Journey

  1. Carletonville aka the very deep gold mine (Anglo American)
  2. Kimberley (De Beers)
  3. Bona-Bona (De Beers)
  4. Cullinan (De Beers)
  5. Griekwastad (De Beers)
  6. Alldays (De Beers)
  7. Johannesburg (multiple and now maxgeo)

After a stint on the border of Zimbabwe, Eugene moved into a GIS role with Harmony Gold. That experience led him to another career highlight: working for Geodatec, a company that used NASA’s geologically sensitive satellite data to perform satellite imagery interpretation.

“We interpreted the ASTER imagery to help our clients target likely metal deposits, such as hydrothermal gold”, Eugene explained.

From there, Eugene moved to a geological consultant role at The MSA Group, where he was in charge of the Data Management and Remote Sensing Department.

“I created geological databases on the Microsoft Access platform… something I shudder to think about now, but it stood me in good stead for appreciating maxgeo!”

With his wandering African feet, Eugene moved on again – this time to a massive Brazilian-based international company called Vale, where he was part of the global Information Management team and was solely responsible for the Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region.

“Working at Vale was one of my best work experiences. The Brazilians are like South Africans – we understand each other. The company also offered free language classes, so I learned Portuguese!”

All good things must come to an end, and when Vale pulled out of Africa, Eugene pivoted from a great workplace to ENRC, later ERG.

“I really wanted to work for maxgeo as I’d been watching the company over the years and was impressed by the way things were progressing there, and had been applying for a while. So when (maxgeo South Africa team manager) Maryke Maree offered me a job in May 2019, I jumped at the opportunity!”

As a database consultant, Eugene draws on all his geological, GIS and database management experience to support maxgeo clients with training and mentoring, installations, and database management for hosted clients.

“I found it quite challenging at first because I had never used maxgeo products before. But the staff in both the South Africa office and the Australasia office are so knowledgeable and helpful, I was able to upskill quickly.”

Now Eugene is transitioning from a database consultant into a SQL specialist. In that role, he will be able to migrate new client data from their old database into DataShed, by manipulating views so that the data maps across accurately. He is learning the intricacies of SQL databases from maxgeo experts including John Liu and Caroline Fowler in the Australasian office.

“I derive great satisfaction from tackling a big problem, unraveling it, and delivering a good result, so this role will be perfect for me.”

Eugene is a social being but working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic was a surprisingly positive experience. His beloved fur babies have kept him company at home: Pepper and Monty, two young black Scotties adopted through Scottish Terrier Rescue South Africa.

“2020 was a weird year in terms of work environment. The 2019 maxgeo conference was fantastic because we got to meet colleagues from all the other international offices, but we couldn’t do that in 2020.

“One of the best things that maxgeo instigated last year was ‘maxgeo moments’, a quick 15-minute catch-up between the South Africa office and the Australasia office. We just say hi and see how everyone is faring. We all get to know each other quite well and have a laugh. South Africans and Australians have a similar sense of humour so it can be quite fun. No work talk allowed!”

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