Our ninth episode of ACS Industry Insights included a live Q&A with Simon Moorfield, Executive General Manager Information Systems and Technology at AGL. While we were not able to answer all of your questions live, we were fortunate enought to receive answers after the broadcast and are pleased to share these below.
Anirban: How do I start off my professional career? Where to find ongoing projects in the IT field?
A wise man (my father) once told me, “If you want a long career, have expertise.” Essentially this means, find an area you have the most interest in and go as deep as you can while working. If interested you will be passionate, and you will be an expert that people will call on for assistance. As long as you maintain a great attitude you will be well sought-after. Without a doubt I see, front-end developer and data science skills in high demand and will continue to be the case for a number of years, another emerging area is ‘Technology Automation’.
Xharm: If Australia has brain drain syndrome now, how are you placing aspiring ICT professionals to be part of Aus industry to ensure job placements?
There are a couple of layers to this question. Firstly, the immediate need to create valuable, exciting roles here in Australia, and have our IT community recognise that to be true and ultimately stay here. I feel for the most part ‘controversially’ that we have this where IT is ‘functionally’ part of a company (I.e. a bank, Telco, Energy etc). I have worked across many countries (11 years in Senior IT roles overseas) and can say that from experience that we do not have a ‘thriving’ technology startup and product industry. Indeed there are few fantastic examples like Atlassian who provide leading-edge product innovation; we need more of these to attract those wanting to work on IT product, not IT integration.
Matt: What was the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome them? #ACSLive
Recognising I can’t do it all, and I have to trust my team was a significant step in my career growth. I can clearly remember the moment I was working on a program in Thailand where I felt completely overwhelmed, and I had to delegate more and ‘release’ the team. What a great decision and they smashed it! That was a huge personal challenge.
Aun: How can IT and AGL align their interests?
Sorry for the short answer here, but we are 100% aligned. We are striving for great customer outcomes together.
Ewan: What advice do you have to help make customers and companies realise they need to change?
This is a really tough question as every situation is different for a variety of reasons, from being disrupted by tech, to regulatory requirements, ageing infrastructure etc. However, at the end of the day, you are only in business to provide value to customers. You need to assess if your customers are truly happy with what you are offering them or are you now in a ‘grudge’ purchase situation. Tools such as NPS, can help you assess if your customers are happy with the service you are providing.
Deeny: In the future ‘prosumer’ era whereby the cost of renewable energy will be cost-effective and even free...do you agree that this will happen? What is AGL's business model in such an eventuality?
We have a very clear strategic goal around a renewable, sustainable future for all. So, we’re currently investing in a business model that’ll embrace and enable this future. We have several trials underway, including virtual power plants and peer-peer energy sharing. These types of initiatives will influence this outcome significantly.
Saidul: As an IT professional, if you have a dispute with non-IT members of the company regarding any product or service, how do you resolve it?
We have an honest, open conversation focused on the business outcome (product/service). We work hard to develop trusted relationships, and with that will come shared empathy on a common goal.
Jackie: Are analytic insights generated through IOT technologies only?
No. We rely on many data sources – from traditional meter reads all the way through to newer IOT products in our power generation sites.
Ewan: Do you think there has been a shift in the mindset created for graduates coming into the company having a focus on customers and less on tech or do you think education is still lagging in that area?
Everyone is different; I don’t necessarily think it is a timing problem more an individual’s strengths, passion and focus. Technology is a great enabler of a product or service, but without the customer focus and a human-centred design approach, the technology offering may not land.
Ravinder: Please mention the analytics platform and tools we should learn for a better Analytics career or to become a data scientist.
We’ve invested in many tools and platforms across the business, and have recently shared AGL’s ARC with the Open Source community. I’ve attached our LinkedIn article below. Ultimately, it’s how you use the data that counts and how you respond to the questions the data raises. The debates fueled by data-driven hypotheses and theories, and the ultimate application of data insights to transform your business and the human experience. Now, this is what makes for a great career as a data scientist.
@whiskypiper67: You're espousing STEM skills as a necessary skill for the future. What about the adage: "All philosophers must become engineers; and all engineers must become philosophers"?
I firmly believe that we have more STEM skills (in total number and variation of opportunities) today than we did when I started my career and I firmly believe we will need many more capable people in the future than we have now. This doesn’t exclude the need and opportunity for roles in the future in non-STEM areas; I am just highlighting that STEM is a high growth area for people to consider and for our country to invest.
@whiskypiper67: What are the key "soft skills" you see for future generations to succeed.
The same as the ones used now. I am sure plenty of books and PhD’s have explored this, but some nouns that come to mind are: curiosity, integrity, passion, humility, inclusiveness, accountability…