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March 8, 2021

Role Model Expert: Anna Kaniewska

Agata Piekut by Agata

On developing her career in IT as Management Consulting Manager in Industry X, Accenture.

Could you please tell us more about your job in Health, Safety and Environment Management?

My role is to advise on, drive and execute Digital Transformation in Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) scope across Clients organizations in multiple industries. This is spanning various HSE domains: Operational Safety & Risk Management, Incidents Management, Product Stewardship as well as Environmental Management & Sustainability.

I work with both business leadership and IT teams (DevOps or Agile teams) to design, develop, test and ultimately deploy solutions that help clients to improve their HSE performance and compliance and allow them making decisions predictively and in real-time to reduce workplace risk and incidents. We achieve this by making their operations smart, connected, living and learning.

And what were your previous roles? How do you use your previous experience to advance in your current job?

I have been wearing different hats along my career, from field based engineer auditing various facilities and assessing their HSE performance and compliance, SME and external advisor to one of the Oil & Gas Super Majors to more operational management acting as Country Manager of a Global Environmental Engineering consultancy and a Client Account Lead. I have built upon that combination of hands on HSE engineering consulting experience, CRM and operational management to grow the IT angle to my professional profile. In Accenture therefore I have leveraged deep understanding of HSE challenges that employees face in the field and those that leadership deals with at the business reporting level as well as on the compliance process hurdles that red tape may impose on the exploration and production planning. I have then equipped myself in the knowledge and gained experience in such technologies as Cloud (MS Azure, AWS), IoT and intelligent automation (UiPath – StudioX) as well as methodologies (Agile) and frameworks (Scrum). That mix of skills and hands-on experience proved to be beneficial especially in complex projects such as design of Integrated Refinery Information System (iMOMS), and in deployment of various HSE SaaS solutions such as SpheraCloud or Enablon/eVision. Integrating these two angles to HSE, also allowed me to see the bigger picture thus to better develop and execute digital solutions for business performance improvement and optimization.

Along that path, I also learned that an underlying foundation to any successful digital transformation is a comprehensive change management program to ensure smooth change implementation, minimum business impact, lower resistance and robust Client adoption. With this in mind I embarked on a path to a different side of digital HSE and built upon my technical and business background to drive Organizational Change Management for global programs. These included IT evolution program, Capital Efficiency and Carbon Competitiveness of Capital Projects and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automating key organizational processes across business teams and networks.

This journey has led me to driving global Transformation programs and Organizational Changes, which is what I’m currently focused on. I must admit it is exciting to be part of the collaborative effort along the digital roadmap of the businesses I work with to help them transform the core of their organizations. The value of creating strategy and solutions to solve existing issues with the available technologies feels very satisfying.

We’re talking mostly about the exploration industry, but that doesn’t mean that IT plays a secondary role, quite the contrary. Could you please share with us which are the key technologies in this business?

IT and engineering are intertwined in my case. There are so many new technological advancements in the current business landscape that it may be difficult to keep up. Numerous technologies are fast becoming available and affordable, replacing, simplifying and automating outdated, disconnected and cumbersome systems. Some of them include Cloud, which is far more than just a virtual data center. In fact it enables software components which can help companies to improve HSE (and overall business) performance and optimize their operations if they are planned, implemented, and run the right way. HSE IT & OT platforms as well as Performance Dashboards are another example. They have been developed to make operational data more readily available and useable for greater data insights into operations and HSE issues such as dynamic barrier and cumulative risk management. To the leadership, most importantly, they allow reporting real-time reliable data to support better decision making. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality on the other hand are being used to improve human centred design, immersive training and over-the-shoulder coaching and support of workers in the field to improve HSE and efficiency.

There are truly many other technologies that enable connected and safe operations e.g. mobile devices and wearable and tracking technology, which are giving workers the ability to read and input data in the field making them more efficient, up-to-date and safer because of their capability to identify fatigue issues, notify workers of impending hazards, inform them of which muster location to head to and to support emergency response and rescue of remote workers. They can also be used to monitor driver fatigue and speeding violations, to report incidents and accidents in the near real-time or to improve turnaround and permiting efficiency.

Another technologies that I forsee as booming in the future HSE space are Big Data Analytics including machine learning and articificial intelligence (AI) to provide deep data insights, make operational recommendations and predict HSE events before they happen, Automated AI-powered HSE monitoring in real-time, and Drones for inspecting environmental impact and monitoring over long distances and in areas difficult to access such as (emissions) stacks and offshore installations.

You’re working on international projects, often spanning across many cultures, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about soft skills crucial in this role.

I find such international and cross-cultural environment very stimulating; however to thrive in such setting demands a unique combination of skills. While strong technical know-how is still essential, it is indeed the soft skills that can mean the difference between survival and true success in international teams.

To me the number one soft skill required in any international assignment is cross-cultural communication. Work in international teams requires great amount of sensitivity, respect, and diplomacy. It also requires an open mind. I suggest to do a research, to make an effort to learn, understand, and appreciate cultural differences and nuances when it comes to communication. Knowing, for instance, how people from other cultures interpret workplace confrontation or something as simple as maintaining eye contact can help to avoid misunderstandings and facilitate better workplace communication. Of course, listening skills are also an important yet often-overlooked element of effective communication.

Another essential capability you’ll need to develop in an international setting is emotional intelligence that influences nearly every aspect of international teams interaction. You’ll need to become self-aware and in control of your emotions, meaning you rather are able to react calmly in critical or stressful business situations. I learned that what we may perceive as normal, sometimes appears as strange or unaccepted to other cultures and vice versa. You therefore need to prepare for it and remain open-minded.

On a practical level, working in international teams typically means working across different time zones. This is where resilience comes in allowing you to rise to meet the inevitable challenges of globalized business landscape, maintain motivation, overcome risks, and recover quickly from hardship.

All the above are in fact elements of being Agile which practically means working in a lightweight, highly responsive way so that you deliver your product or services in the way the customer wants and at that time the customer needs them. This is particularly important in software development and is reflected in the Agile methodology, which is increasingly displacing traditional waterfall approach.

To me, wide travelling experiences and cultures exploration that come with it, have been fundamental in developing these soft skills. To date I have visited 46 countries and hopefully once pandemic is over, I will be still counting them and keep growing in that aspect.

What are the opportunities that you see in this role and industry?

In terms of role, it provides the exciting opportunity to embrace dynamic development of digital potential to shape the roadmap for safer and more sustainable operations.

With regards to industry, the opportunities lie within those businesses that continue to improve HSE performance and have managed to leverage available technology to simplify, integrate and, where possible, automate processes in a human-centered way, removing the silos and connecting their data sources in real time, enabling greater insight and prediction of issues before they happen. While they do this, they continue to instill a strong culture of operational excellence, enabling the workforce to do the right things, the right way all of the time. They provide immersive training and ensure that user experience and outcomes are at the center of process design, innovation and digital transformation. They make sure that the workforce can access systems and input data when they need it and wherever they need it through mobile technology and connectivity of devices (IoT). By tracking people and assets, monitoring their location, activity and health, they gain transparency are able to adapt operations to be even more efficient, to warn people of hazards and better respond to emergencies. Likewise, video analytics are being used to recognize PPE or vehicle speeding violations, hazards and site intrusion, automatically enhancing safety reporting and frontline interventions. By doing all this, they don’t just improve HSE performance. They improve quality, maximize production uptime and reduce costs too.

Any further recommendations for those who’d like to follow your path?

Be genuinely curious, find your strengths and build upon them, find a mentor or coach that will help you navigate your path along the way, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. More importantly never stop learning, develop a continuous improvement mindset in both your personal and professional life.

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