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Elizabeth Hollinger, director of insight, Aggreko

Elizabeth Hollinger, director of insight, Aggreko

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

The objective of our data strategy is to accelerate delivery of value of our organisation’s strategy. We work collaboratively with subject matter experts across our global business, using data to help solve our most complex business problems. This alignment makes sure that we focus on the most important challenges and create truly actionable insight which adds tangible value.

 

Our mission is to enhance and augment human decision making and we integrate the output of our leading-edge analytical capability to our in-house applications, making it easy for our business to have access to the right information to aide insight-driven decision making.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

In Aggreko, we prioritise our data activity every quarter to allow us to be flexible to the changing needs of our business. We have an established steering committee, with representation across the various functional areas, who discuss and agree priorities as informed by the value we think it will generate and the estimated complexity of the ask. This makes sure we stay aligned to our overall business objectives and focus our work on where we think we will have the most impact.

 

This year, our flexible planning became ever more important as we pivoted our activity to best support our business with the disruption caused by Covid-19. Some of the activity we anticipated we would pick up during year was paused, and we refocused our efforts in understanding how to best support our business to have access to the right information to make quick and informed decisions in replanning. The work we have carried out over the last few years in improving data literacy across the organisation meant we were well positioned to make the best data-driven decisions.

 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

In 2021, we will continue to progress our strategy to transform Aggreko into an insight-driven organisation. We will complete the implementation of our cloud-based modern data platform, which is creating a single and unified platform for all data activity, from reporting to machine learning to providing applications with the information they need. This will become the foundation for us enabling data democratisation, empowering our global business with access to trusted data to further embed data-driven decision-making.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

Using data for good and ensuring the ethical use of data should always been important for anyone working in the industry. Across Aggreko, I am proud that we are using our data skills to support our organisation’s energy transition strategy – setting targets to enable reduction in emissions outputs and supporting the green energy agenda. Our deep understanding of our assets and how they operate has enabled us to build simulation models for our customers to provide them options in how to reduce overall emissions levels.

 

What has been your path to power?

 

I studied maths and stats at university and always loved trying to understand patterns of information in large sets of data. I began my career in the insurance industry, joining Aegon and studying to become an actuary. From there, I joined Deloitte in the actuarial consulting team and started to focus on analytics in insurance.

 

Through that time, I gained exposure to other teams and projects and enjoyed the challenge of working across a variety of industries with different sets of data, communicating the messages contained within them and making a real impact on decision-making. I then moved into the analytics team at Deloitte, leading our analytics work across the public sector, helping them to use data to solve business problems.

 

I joined Aggreko in summer 2018 and am now the director of insight, where I lead our data engineering, data science, business intelligence and application development teams. I am responsible for developing and executing our data strategy and leading our transformation across Aggreko to become an insight-driven organisation.

 

I have a passion for helping people understand the value of data, communicating complex ideas in a simple way to enable effective insight-driven decision making.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

I am fortunate to have had many highlights in my career to date, and the common theme across them are the great people I have had the pleasure of working with. From the coaches and mentors who helped kick-start and support my career in data; to the great teams I have worked with throughout the years. I’m delighted now to lead my own data team, supporting them to grow and develop in their careers.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

Aggreko recently launched our energy transition commitments – setting targets to enable reduction in emissions outputs to support the green energy agenda. By 2050 or sooner, Aggreko, and the services we provide, will be net zero. Our data team are embedded within our global sustainability working group, where we are supporting the definition of our roadmap to meet our strategic ambition, for example by providing efficiency predictions to support our customers to make right-sizing decisions and extending support in hybrid product sites to optimise for green energy and minimise environmental impact.

 

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?

 

Our definition of analytics in Aggreko is “using data to solve business problems”. These can be big or small problems, simple or complex. To that end, our data strategy covers all the use of our data across the organisation; from how we empower our business to access and use trusted data; to providing relevant reporting to improve our understanding of performance; to providing predictive insights to inform next best action and aide insight-driven decisio- making.

 

We have a centralised data team to support our global business, and we work collaboratively with subject matter experts to use our data to solve our most pressing business problems. Working in this collaborative way makes sure we focus effort in the areas which will add most value to our business and maintain alignment with our organisation strategy – accelerating delivery of value.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

To develop a data culture, the first step is to ensure there is an understanding of the art of the possible and value data can add. This can be shared through anecdotes of other successful organisations’ data journeys. Once there is a base level of understanding, it’s important to work collaboratively on a specific use case as informed by a current business challenge, focusing efforts in using data to solve that business problem. Once value is proven through that use case, use this to showcase the benefit of data-driven analyses and grow out further use cases incrementally to other parts of the business, working collaboratively with relevant SMEs and demonstrating benefit through each stage.

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