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Meaningful and achievable steps – a view from Aggreko

Elizabeth Hollinger, Head of Analytics at Aggreko, responds to a question on the shortage of technical and leadership skills.
I think in Aggreko, we’re actually in an excellent position that and that we are all data curious. We’re an organisation largely of engineers and within our own team of IT professionals. And we like data and we are curious about it. So the way that we build up our capability across the insights team was to think about the skill sets. First of all that we had within the organisation. Do we have a particular engineer who’s really numerate and likes doing some of the analysis work as opposed to kind of the hands on engineering work? Do we have people who are working in DB Aeros, in modelling and producing reports, can we start to pull them in?
So one of the first things that we did was look across our organisation and start to pull in some of those skills we thought would be helpful to build a really collaborative and diverse team of people with different views and opinions. And when we pulled those people together, we thought we’ll where are the gaps? We know what we want to do, and we have a good team of people with a good set of skills to start to meet that need, but what are we missing? And from there that then shaped our recruitment strategy of the people that we wanted to bring in and engage with and, you know, have there as permanent staff.
I think there’s always a question about how you use temporary staff. You know, I think in the future, we might consider how we augment the team with contractors for a short period of time to deliver some of our strategic or tactical projects. Or how we engage with large organisations, large consultancies, or the mid tier firms to think about how they can bring their knowledge and expertise, either from a particular domain or industry to help us to progress our thinking and continue to be innovative. I think the mixture of skill sets that you need, in a truly insight driven organisation extends just beyond that technical remit. So we have a combination of skill sets within the team.
A lot of our skills are technical, we model data, we engineer that data, we build predictive models. We create reports. But really to make those reports effective and to make them used across the organisation, we need strong communication skills. We need people who are able to influence the business to understand what it is that they’re looking for, and to be able to demonstrate the benefit of any solution that we’ve produced. So it’s fantastic to have all of our technical skills we wouldn’t be here without them. But the thing that differentiates us and really makes us add value is that really strong communication influencing and collaboration skill across the organisation

When speaking to Elizabeth, I commented that a shortage of technical and leadership skills is often cited as a challenge, so I asked her how she overcame these challenges to build her team.

Elizabeth gave great responses that acknowledged the core data skills required and introduced the wider skills required for success. I also love the phrase “data curious”.

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