Research Unit Manager — Rebecca Davison

Back to Careers in Geography

I studied Geography all through secondary school, and because I always did well in it, I continued it at university. I graduated with History/Geography majors, and I was always more interested in the human, rather than physical, side of Geography.

So, when I did my Honours year, my research was on a 'human' topic: 'Community Participation in Retail Zoning Disputes'. This fitted with my emerging interest in town planning. I followed up my Honours year with a Graduate Diploma of Urban Policy and Research.

Toward the end of five years of continuous study, I contemplated my first full-time job. I had worked part-time in retailing, but the 'real' workforce was a bit intimidating for me. I had worked out that I was more interested in macro (broad) rather than micro (local) issues to do with planning. So, I reasoned that a Graduate Employment Program would suit me.

I moved from Melbourne to Canberra to work as a Graduate Research Officer with a Federal Government Department. The learning and work procedures were fine, but my real interests proved to be in Melbourne. I was back there within twelve months.

I found a job as a market analyst with Pacific Magazines and Marketing, a News Corporation company. I had to research information for companies about their markets. I worked on site reports, census data interpretation, and all types of marketing research and mailouts. There were many deadlines and a regular turnover of jobs. The work involved speed, pressure and efficiency. There were plenty of opportunities in the job, and I progressed to middle management quite quickly.

After eighteen months, I was missing the precision and care that I had used in my studies, and I started to look around for other jobs. I soon found an interesting opportunity as an Urban and Regional Analyst with my present employer, the Victorian Department of Infrastructure. I applied for the position and, after my interview, was offered an adjacent position as a Demographic Analyst. I began doing population projections for various regions and localities in Victoria.

This was interesting, varied and fulfilling work. As I developed my understanding of the job and its potential, I started to be more interested in the communication of the results—marketing—of these ideas to those who could use them. My boss and I agreed on this and in time I gained a Senior Research position with more interpretation and communicative duties. After about two years, the impact of our research work was beginning to be recognised, and we were able to employ a marketing person full-time.

The original spark of interest to 'tell the world' about our research has led to my being the Manager of a Research Unit with broad marketing responsibilities. I have been trained in management (Graduate Certificate in Management), encouraged to use my initiative, and I am developing my skills in workplace relationships.

When I look back over ten years to my early study of Geography, I can see that it fostered diverse skills which could be applied in a multitude of areas. My kind of Geography is about people—people in my workplace and people movements in the community.

Business and government need our insights, and it's fun getting our message to the world.