Team leader at swisstopo.
Interview: Bettina Huber
Tobias Providoli studied geography at the University of Basel and works for the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo) in Wabern near Bern. He now leads a production team working on the topographic landscape model (TLM) and is also involved in AlumniGeo.
UNI NOVA: Mr. Providoli, how did you come to pursue this career?
PROVIDOLI: After my studies, I completed a graduate internship in the TLM process at the Federal Office of Topography, where the staff are building a 3D geodata set for Switzerland and Liechtenstein. High-resolution aerial images are used to stereoscopically record a large number of natural objects – such as forests, lakes, glaciers, watercourses and individual trees – and man-made objects (such as buildings, streets, railroads and bridges). My one-year internship allowed me to watch my colleagues at work and familiarize myself with the geodatabase. I have always been interested in aerial images and really enjoyed capturing objects in 3D, so I applied for a project manager position. More and more people were being hired to help build the TLM and the existing production teams were becoming bigger and bigger, so another production team was eventually established. I’ve been managing this team since 2014.
UNI NOVA: How did your studies at the University of Basel prepare you for this career path?
PROVIDOLI: The geography program covers a wide range of topics and students have a lot of flexibility to choose what they study. They are given the opportunity to specialize at an early stage, in addition to the compulsory lectures of the initial semesters. I soon realized that I enjoy working with geodata in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I attended pretty much every GIS course on offer. GIS was also an integral part of my master’s thesis, in which I studied the shifting of forest lines in Switzerland and Canada. The knowledge and skills I acquired during my studies were the ideal foundation for my graduate internship at swisstopo and for entering the world of work.
UNI NOVA: What aspects of your studies made a particular impact?
PROVIDOLI: University was a totally new phase of my life. I had lived with my parents while still at school. Before starting university, I moved into an apartment in Basel with my brother and began to cut the apron strings. I learned to be independent and take responsibility. My geography studies included lots of project work, which required independence, self-organization and motivation, as well as team work and good communication. I came to know many of my fellow students very well and friendships developed. Thanks to the modest number of geography students, the atmosphere was very pleasant and almost familial, particularly during my master’s. This is where my foundations were laid, and this is why I became involved in AlumniGeo after my studies. It allows me to meet with alumni and other like-minded people. Graduates are spread throughout Switzerland and all over the world, so this provides an opportunity to remain in contact. In today’s fast-paced world, I think this is extremely important.