Meet Jason Vella: Geodetica’s visionary founder

When Jason Vella began a Bachelor of Surveying in South Australia after leaving his hometown of Mackay in Queensland, he never imagined it would one day lead to him establishing a consulting firm in Canberra.

At the time it seemed like a natural choice as he had always had an affinity for the outdoors and a talent for problem solving. However, due to a desire to major in Geodesy and GPS, he moved to Western Australia where he completed his degree and worked in South East Asia as a hydrographic surveyor for the oil and gas industry. It was during this time, Jason completed his Masters in Geomatics Engineering on Ocean Tidal Modelling, using satellite altimetry.

Almost a decade later, Jason returned to Australia and decided to settle in Canberra where his sister Kim Vella was living.

“I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to Canberra and was fortunate that Kim was able to introduce me to her networks. I landed a role with Geoscience Australia, and then worked for the Department of Family and Community Services for a short time before finding a home at Defence where I stayed for a little over 10 years.

“I’ve always been an avid learner so I didn’t hesitate when I got the chance to attend the Australian Command and Staff College, and from there I went on to gain my Masters of Military and Defence Studies.”

Wanting to get back to his roots in the private sector and support Defence in a different capacity, Jason left the public service and launched Geodetica soon after.

“The vision for Geodetica was to bring genuine expertise in engineering, surveying, project management, and strategic planning to organisations in the public and private sectors.

“It was about more than augmenting teams with contractors – I wanted to uplift the capability within every team I worked with, so when I stepped away I knew they had what they needed to see it through to successful completion.”

After identifying a niche gap in the Defence market for local expertise and manufacturing of heavy lift logistics drones and similar technologies, Jason also launched Geodrones Australia in 2018, and was fortunate enough to be joined by Glenn Alcock in 2020 as co-Founder.

“Both companies began to grow simultaneously. At Geodetica, I welcomed our first full-time employee and we have now grown to more than 20 permanent employees. The growth of Geodetica has been organic and at a pace that has allowed us to stay true to the vision. Everyone who has come on board has been a stellar addition to each business.”

Defence specialists Oliver Ciano and Suraj Paniker joined Jason as Directors at Geodetica in 2022, forming a formidable leadership team which has continued to strengthen with the onboarding of many more industry experts in senior roles.

“The collective experience of the Geodetica team is just astounding; I feel very fortunate to be working with all of them. Our capacity to support government and industry – especially in the Defence and natural resources sectors – is very strong.

“This is why we have also recently launched our new incubator, dedicated to helping Defence-related start-ups to grow their businesses. At this point in our journeys, there is so much wisdom and experience to offer and we want to give back. It’s a personal passion of mine to see an idea move from concept to R&D to minimum viable product. I know what that journey is like, and I’ve personally advised a number of start-ups that have gone on to kick some impressive goals.

“Together, we have an ability to help founders bring their own dreams to fruition while contributing to building Australia’s sovereign capability. Local manufacturing is so important, and if we can help to uplift it in any way then it’s certainly a win-win.”

Outside of work, Jason loves spending every spare moment he can with his family.

“My wife, kids, and I have such diverse interests so we try to find ways to combine them wherever we can. This often means planning a holiday somewhere that allows my son and I to get outdoors and my wife and daughter to explore the local city scene.

“I love travelling, but living overseas for 10 years early on in my career definitely gave me an appreciation for Australia. We are extremely lucky to live in a country that allows people to grow and develop and pursue their dreams.”

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