Image of Dr Tomas Holderness
10 years of SMART series

Where are they now? Tomas Holderness

Where are they now? Tomas Holderness

Dr Tomas Holderness: CTO of Addresscloud, United Kingdom

How did working at SMART help your subsequent career?  

Arriving at SMART fresh from my PhD at Newcastle University, I found myself working in an amazing interdisciplinary group of researchers and operational staff who seemed to be running projects involving every kind of infrastructure you can imagine.  

That spirit, and importance, of interdisciplinary research is something I have always carried with me and tried to apply throughout all my roles since I left in 2016. My experience at SMART of sharing an office with so many disciplines, all looking at cities and infrastructure - but in different ways - it was just this amazing environment for generating ideas and solving problems.  

As a geographer I was in my element - working and eventually leading a whole range of projects from sanitation network modelling to disaster response mapping. 

Another key lesson was the importance of the operational staff in supporting and enabling the research we did - a lot of SMART’s projects were operational - actively engaged in the urban environment either capturing data or trying to effect change - and so having an organisational model that included capacity for operations as well as research was simply amazing. And the leadership of both teams was second to none. These are things I’ve tried to emulate (on a much smaller scale!) wherever I go! 

In summary, SMART was a catalyst for me - helping to build and hone technical and non-technical skills which have been fundamental to my career as a researcher and now as a director of my own team. 

Any stories about your time at SMART? 

Working at SMART included a number of career highlights - the launch of the PetaJakarta project with Etienne, and running the subsequent trips for students at UOW - having them work alongside the team from the Emergency Management Agency to collect data about the flooding as well as interviewing residents about their experiences - that was pretty special.  

One of my favourite memories of my time at SMART was having lunch with the team - such an eclectic mix of people from all over the world happy to share experiences and ideas.