Welcome Roger!

Roger Keren

Roger worked at Accela as the Director of Solution Sales Consultants for North America. Before that he worked as a Public Sector Employee. Creating statewide GIS programs to inform and improve critical land use and environmental planning decisions. Roger earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences, followed by a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He was an adjunct professor at Rutgers University teaching courses in GIS and public policy.

Roger brings 15 years of experience as a practitioner, educator, and solution sales consultant on the use of technology and GIS platforms as a means to improve the business of state and local government. It was my pleasure to learn more about my new co-worker over lunch.

Let’s get to know him : )

You’re clearly passionate for technology in the public sector - how did that start?

I’m a big believer in public officials adhering to a mission of public service to the people of their communities. There are lots of ways to be a good public servant. But a critical aspect is having the right tools for doing it effectively, specifically around understanding and making decisions around issues.

I view technology as perhaps the most important tool for enabling public service. Technology provides officials a full and actionable understanding of issues in their communities. It can communicate their policies in understandable ways, and gives citizens a voice as individuals or collectively.

Is this what got you interested in leading North American business development at CartoDB?

As you can tell from my background, I’ve always had a soft spot for the use of location-based data and GIS technology. As I began learning more about CartoDB, I was obviously impressed by the beauty of the product. But what was really got me excited was learning how passionate they are about using maps and locational data and as business intelligence platform. Once I understood that, I realized this was a place I wanted to be!

That sounds like a familiar story! I’m sure you’ve had some pretty great experiences with GIS as a student, practitioner, sales consultant, and even an educator. Do you recall any “ah-ha!” breakthrough moments that had positive impact on your work today?

By far it was starting and leading a NPO in Jersey City. Bergen Communities United is focused on improving the quality of life of residents in Jersey City. As a Co-Founder and first President, my job was to find common ground between groups of peoples beliefs and agendas about complex land use and safety issues. In the end, we accomplished some amazing results that I’m proud of. It really opened my eyes to the importance of seeing things from different perspectives and my ability to motivate people.

So, people. Not technology?

Right it was really about finding alignment between people’s goals and finding solutions that were win win. It sounds simple, but it changed my perspective.

While I’m a transplant, I understand you’re a native New Yorker. Where is something I, or anyone visiting, needs to go?

That’s easy. When the weather’s nice, walk from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge to a pizza shop called, Grimaldi’s. Expect to wait in line, but it’s worth it! If you don’t have time to wait, or are just too hungry, there’s another amazing place next door call Juliana’s. A fun fact is Juliana’s is the site of the original Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s has a long and colorful history, but that’s a story for another day. You can’t go wrong with either choice. But the most important thing is taking your pie over to Brooklyn Bridge Park to eat your pizza with the best seat in the house.

More hard hitting questions… your spirit animal. What is it?

(laughs and pauses) Probably a meerkat - but stay with me for a minute. It’s amazing how they’ve developed a sense of community and allegiance to one another. The fully understand that they are stronger and healthier working together than they are as individuals. I have a similar outlook on things, so I’m probably a meerkat.

Very cool answer. Ok next question - what something new you’re interested in learning about?

Always wanted to learn Spanish. Now that I have so many people to practice on, I might pick it back up again. I just hope I don’t become a pain.

Very final question. An alternate career path? What would it be.

Oh, no question- jukebox consultant! My services would be to visit various establishments to make recommendations on the songs the jukebox should be playing based on the crowd, time of day, weather, etc. I think people recognize and appreciate when the right songs plays at the right time, at the right place, and circumstances. My job would be to make sure that happens all the time. Great for customers and great for business.

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