Career profiles: Laura Caton
BCS Membership Committee, Senior Cartographer
Place of work
UK Hydrographic Office, Taunton, Somerset
What qualifications do you have and what training have you had?
I completed a BSc in Geography from the University of Exeter, graduating in 2011. Since joining the UK Hydrographic Office in 2012, I completed an in-house cartography training course. This included a module on the assessment of incoming data (using ArcGIS) and one for the compilation of charts (using Caris). Throughout my time at the UK Hydrographic Office I have also received on-the-job training in a variety of teams including thematic charts, adopted charts and chart updating.
In addition to my cartographic training, I am also a trained Mental Health First Aider.
What is the best part of your role?
Being in an organisation that covers the whole world and getting an opportunity to work on charts from all over the world too. One day I may be working on a chart of Malaysia, the next day in Spain! This means a variety of different data sources, information, compilation styles and communications with many different foreign government hydrographic offices. It is rewarding to play my small part in keeping the mariner safe.
What is your favourite map that you've drawn, seen or used?
One of the first maps I ever produced was for a landscape evolution module at university, studying Dartmoor. Although very basic, this was my first proper introduction to mapping and GIS, and sparked my interest.
My favourite chart I compiled must be my first New Chart, which was of Kronstadt in Russia. It was very fulfilling to put my training into a practice and to achieve a brand-new chart as a result.
My favourite chart we produce at the UK Hydrographic Office is one covering the Gulf of Riga, or what is affectionately known as 'The Horse's Head' chart because of the shape the gulf is!