Pioneers of PrecisionHawk: Madeline Fetterman

Innovation is in our roots—we’ve pioneered best practices in flight operations and geospatial data analysis since our founding in 2010. While we’re experts in blending multiple layers of data sources—our solutions aren’t driven solely by technology. They’re driven by the people of PrecisionHawk.

Today, we spotlight an employee with a background in aviation, meteorology, and GIS, who has followed a passion for remote sensing to become the Director of Project Management at PrecisionHawk—Madeline Fetterman.


Career Progression—Looking Up, Looking Down

As a child, Madeline was interested in the technology and equipment that would allow her to look up—studying the sky and climate systems.

“When I was young I was always fascinated by meteorology and studying what we can know about the sky and about the earth as seen from the sky—and I still am today.”

Following her interests, Madeline selected an ambitious high school senior project—learning to solo a Cessna 172. She accomplished this and went on to collect over 70 manned piloting hours. As she considered her college and career options, she selected North Carolina State University with the plan to earn a degree in meteorology.

After graduating, Madeline joined PrecisionHawk, starting her career traveling and collecting data for some of the largest agricultural companies in the United States as a member of the flight operations team.

“This role was an accelerant for my career—I became fascinated with remote sensing and GIS, and I decided to pursue a master’s degree while working full-time,” says Madeline. Her early successes yielded an opportunity to manage PrecisionHawk’s sales execution team while continuing her work in her master’s degree program focusing on GIS and remote sensing.

“My capstone project was focused on predicting forest biomass using LiDAR point density. In my research and over my time in the program, I found it incredibly interesting that companies often already have access to a vast amount of collected data or the ability to collect it, but that those same companies often lack the processes and tools to analyze or process that data,” says Madeline.

For Madeline, it was clear that while the application of emerging technology could accelerate a company’s ability to use data to make informed business decisions, the people who built, managed, and harnessed the company’s data systems were critical components for discovering and implementing solutions.

“In every company, in every industry, there are people whose work collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data is often unheralded but is critical for innovation and success."


That’s how she came to project management—the recognition that by facilitating effective communication between internal and external teams, data could be better used to address pressing challenges.

Project Management—A Bridge for All Stakeholders

“Project management is a critical role in a sales and services lifecycle, and managers offer their clients affirmative acknowledgment that their needs will be addressed, on time and within budget,” says Madeline. In short, project managers offer clients peace of mind.

Advancing in her career, Madeline began managing relationships with clients in multiple industries, from inception to completion. “It takes great communication between stakeholders to ensure that the deals that we execute are well-planned, feasible, realistic, and will benefit our clients from start to finish,” she says. 

Often, Madeline recommends a new client complete a proof-of-concept phase. She recommends this because in doing so, companies may discover additional possibilities or identify other areas of interest that would be relevant and revelatory.

“Our gold-star standard as a project management team is when all stakeholders agree to partner together for an additional scope of work following a successful proof of concept."


An example would be when a leading utility company executes a proof of concept project to collect data from 1,000 poles, then wishes to expand the scope of work to collect data from 800,000 poles within the calendar year.

To execute—whether a proof-of-concept for 1,000 poles or a project for 800,000—the partnership relies on project managers, like Madeline and her team. “Our project managers add value for our clients through the communication of proper work performance data, delivery of clear and timely reporting, and holding our internal teams accountable to the needs of our clients,” says Madeline. 

“Our project management team is critical in the implementation of these partnerships with our clients—they’re always leading our teams toward success and acting as a bridge for all of our stakeholders, internally and externally,” says Madeline.

Looking Ahead So Clients Can Make More Informed Decisions

“What we’re anticipating in 2021 and beyond is the expansion of the availability of new technology and new hardware that will open up how leading organizations across industries will be able to address and solve problems,” says Madeline. 

The availability of data is increasing—and the availability of high-quality, high-density, high-resolution data is increasing as well, regardless of the collection method. “We’re looking ahead toward how we can continue to provide additional granularity for our clients, broadening the availability of collected data and the ability to process and analyze it to make informed business decisions,” says Madeline.


And her team of project managers is championing this work—she instructs her team to be supporters, partners, and advocates of PrecisionHawk’s clients, and leads by example. 

“We’ve developed and enhanced our products to process data in such a way that our clients are able to draw actionable insights from it directly, and without lag time in processing,” says Madeline. “We have the ability to process data quickly and efficiently, and we can also help our clients store and visualize their data for critical decisions.”  

Each day, she challenges each one of her team members to think about how new and emerging technologies will fit into what each client will need—and how to facilitate communication that will enable clients to harness their available data.

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