Getting to know Siya

Siya works as a database research technician at the KZN Museum. He manages databases of 11 collections from the museum’s natural sciences department using the Specify database programme to check and doublecheck that the specimens have the correct information and have a secure storage location. In addition, Siya is responsible for publishing the museum data through GBIF and ensuring that the data is regularly updated. Aside from that, Siya’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the museum datasets meet established standards and are appropriate for public use. This work is significant because specimen information must be accurate and contain the best information possible, as these are used worldwide.

Siya considers his day to be quite interesting because anything can happen, from capturing specimen data to checking for database errors, fixing loan and label invoices, providing data from data requests, and assisting his department colleagues with any issues they may be having with Specify, georefencing records, and so on.

Siya’s views on the importance of collections:

“They are irreplaceable and important for educational purposes and understanding certain patterns regarding speciation and the environment.”

Siya as a young leader: Because there are so few museum data technicians in South Africa, Siya works independently. However, he must sit down with technicians and curators and enlighten them on the importance of open access, the information that must be provided when collecting, and data standards (Darwin Core) and what they entail. These engagements have demonstrated Siya’s ability to lead when needed.

“For someone who is looking at being a data manager and will have to manage people one day, I need the skills from the workshop to learn for my future prospects.”

Given our country’s current crisis, Siya believes that young leaders must raise their hands and begin to be counted in decision-making.

Siya’s workshop expectations: He is excited to engage everyone, be open to learning, and complete all of the tasks assigned to him to the best of his ability. He is, however, concerned about working with new people who are different from him and may have different values and perspectives on the world than he does.

Preparation for the workshop: 

“I am reading up on the articles provided and obviously preparing my mind to get there with no expectations, but rather to look forward.”

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