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News — 11 March, 2024

Staff Spotlight Series: Honey Fombuena

Each quarter, we’re featuring one of our all-star staff members in a Staff Spotlight Series. Staff featured in this Series have been peer-nominated for their superb performance and values-driven work. This quarter, we’re spotlighting Honey Fombuena, our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst for the Asia Pacific Open Mapping Hub.

What first attracted you to work at HOT?

What drew me in was HOT’s mission to provide humanitarian mapping and services through a people-centric approach. I have always seen myself working with an organization that will allow me to mold and use my skills and abilities to support marginalized and vulnerable communities. HOT’s dedication to helping people by utilizing open mapping and continuously breaking the barriers and biases found in conventional maps resonates deeply with what I am passionate about. Joining HOT allows me to turn my passion into a profession and be part of a community that inspires me to continuously improve myself.

What’s the best thing about your colleagues?

What I admire about my colleagues is their passion for helping others. When we work together, we look beyond ourselves to see how our efforts will benefit the communities we serve. I am honored to work alongside a team of professionals who excel in their craft and from whom I learn new perspectives every day.

Tell us a bit about how your career/personal journey led you to HOT.

During my final year at university, I found myself with some free time for exploration. It was during this period that I decided to join the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute’s YouthMappers Chapter (UPRI YouthMappers). This initial step introduced me to OpenStreetMap (OSM) and acquainted me with its community of volunteer mappers, along with the various use cases it serves. Little did I know that my involvement with OSM would pave the way for my first job as a Data Entry Staff and, later, as a Data Validation Lead with HOT in its PhilAWARE Project. Following a year-long journey in the field, I undertook my board exam and obtained my license as a Geodetic Engineer in the Philippines. The day I received news of passing my board exam coincided with HOT confirming my acceptance as a GIS Associate of the AP Hub. It felt as though two of my greatest manifestations had been fulfilled on that very day.

What is your current role at HOT, and how has it evolved?

I currently serve as a GIS Analyst at the AP Hub, primarily focusing on map data. Initially, my responsibilities were centered around map creation. However, as I gained a deeper understanding of the hub’s objectives and aspirations, my role evolved to encompass various stages of the map data cycle: from map data collection and management to visualization, monitoring, and some validation. As long as map data is involved, I remain committed to supporting the hub and our stakeholders.

My passion lies in producing impactful and inclusive map products that enhance the lives of their users. Additionally, I aim to showcase the AP Hub’s impact by narrating stories through maps, aligning with our target outcomes.

StaffSpotlight-Honey4.jpg Honey graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geodetic Engineering. She is passionate about utilizing GIS and Remote Sensing (RS) to create geospatial products that will be beneficial to the community.

What fulfills you most about your role?

What truly satisfies me in my role is witnessing the direct impact we make on people’s lives. Collaborating with organizations and individuals who share our vision, working toward a common goal, and achieving outcomes greater than ourselves is a source of fulfillment for me. Creating a space to amplify the voices of the community and consistently involving them in the development of our projects reflects the approach our team is committed to embodying.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in GIS?

My advice is to find a niche that you are passionate about and begin exploring geospatial solutions within that field of study. If possible, invest in GIS training to provide you with the fundamental to advanced knowledge needed for GIS work. Then, join a GIS-related community, as this journey is most satisfying when taken with others. Increase your involvement and exposure to a variety of GIS projects to improve your skillset and portfolio.

Where are some of your bucket list travel locations?

One of the top destinations on my travel bucket list was South Korea, and I was thrilled to cross it off last year when I attended FOSS4G Asia 2023 in Seoul. I’d like to express my gratitude to the OpenSummit Team for their collaboration with the FOSS4G Asia 2023 organizers and for entrusting me with the opportunity to represent HOT on the international stage.

What was the last TV show you binge-watched?

I enjoyed binge-watching the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix. Give it a watch!

StaffSpotlight-Honey5.jpg Honey presenting at FOSS4G Asia 2023 in Seoul.

Learn more about Honey here. Photos courtesy of Honey Fombuena.