Aggreko Adapts to the New Normal
The following interviews provide insights into they way different departments within Aggreko are responding to the lingering effects of the pandemic. The interviewees also share their respective experiences in their roles within the organisation.
The HR Perspective
How would you say 2021 was for Aggreko compared to last year especially relating to your role and department?
A lot changed last year which is not surprising giving the covid context, Aggreko has always been flexible but in 2020 we had to be flexible and dynamic like never before in taking care of our people which was top priority for Aggreko. We rolled out policies faster than in the past and it worked. In 2021 we have gone back to the drawing board and rethought some of the status quo in ways of working. Flexible/Hybrid working has been at the forefront of the conversation, we are pushing for more innovative ideas. This year has been more putting structures in place to nurture flexibility, we carried out a lot of survey and rolled out policies like working from home policy etc.
In terms of mental health, I know that a number of initiatives were put in place to ensure that staff felt supported. How successful have these initiatives been? Have a lot of employees taken advantage of them?
Yes it has really helped a lot, 2 key initiatives from our employee wellbeing program comes to mind, the dedicated counselling service for employees and their family and virtual work-out app withU which has several programs including meditation.
A lot is being done to drive diversity within Aggreko. Have you seen an increase in women applying for roles and or an increase in women within the business being promoted?
Definitely, we still have a long journey ahead of us but we have made a lot of strides this year, we recently had our first female engineer successfully start her chartered engineering journey, we launched a female network in Africa (Aggreko Africa Female Community) successfully and a huge part of the agenda is to support our female employees to reach their potential as well as attract female talent in STEM to join Aggreko Africa.
What is your recruitment strategy for 2022? Particularly for graduates and early career professionals…
We are currently working on a comprehensive graduate and internship program for Africa, we are looking to collaborate with universities across Africa in this regard. We have a lot of Talent in Africa, and we want to do our part in developing this young talent.
Reflecting on the last year, from an HR perspective, what could you have done better or differently that you will do in the year to come?
I believe that we are well placed to continue to support our people across the region, however there is always room for improvement in the areas of diversity, talent acquisition, and employee engagement
What has been your biggest learning from this year and what are you most looking forward to in 2022?
My biggest learning from this year is that not one size fits all, we have to be flexible in our approach to policies and procedures we roll out, I also learned that we have more in common than what differentiates us especially through the Female network program.
The Project Management Perspective
Your role must have become even more overwhelming over the last 2 years. Can you give me some insight into what it has been like working at Aggreko this year?
I actually joined Aggreko during the pandemic. The only downside to this is not getting to meet people because everyone was working from home and there were so many travel restrictions – I only got to meet my boss last month after being with Aggreko for a year. It has been a very interesting experience though.
Prior to joining Aggreko, I was self-employed doing some consulting, so I was already working remotely and when I started my current job, it was an easy transition because I was used to this way of working already. The only difference is that I couldn’t see people face-to-face. Currently, working from the office is only by choice which I do from time to time for a change of scenery.
Time, Cost and quality are the three major components of project management. How were each of these affected by the pandemic and how did you overcome the challenges?
We never compromise on quality. Whether we are facing delays or there are cost implications we always deliver quality services
Cost – there are cost implications due to the pandemic. Cancelled flights, (cancelled bookings due to people testing positive for covid), quarantine/isolation costs. (people staying in hotels longer than anticipated)
Time – with all the travel bans, cancellations, we find ourselves delivering projects later than planned.
How has this year been in terms of commissioning projects been in the last year/since you started at Aggreko?
Commissioning projects has been quite challenging because of the travel bans and different restrictions in different countries which caused a lot of delays in getting things done. We had to manage our clients in this regard but thankfully, they are quite accommodating because every business is going through similar things because of the pandemic.
What are some of the things that needed/need to be considered when taking on new projects, particularly in recent times?
The possibility of the project not being delivered on time need to be taken into consideration. Possibly of fleet and manpower being delayed when mobilising. The travel restrictions have to be taken into consideration. Allocated resources might not be available due to travel bans. Allocated resources contracting the virus. Shipping lines not operating as per normal schedule. Building in a contingency when doing planning is important.
Having joined Aggreko during the pandemic, what kind of support did you need and receive in order to settle in comfortably?
Aggreko has a standard induction process that they carry out where new hires get to meet people in different departments as well as getting early exposure to clients. Within your first two weeks of working at Aggreko, you will have interacted with many people and get a better understanding of how each area of the business works.
Tell me, do you get to work with a lot of other women in your team and the wider business? What is your experience as a woman working in Aggreko?
In the engineering fields in general, there aren’t many women. I got accustomed to this from my high school days and throughout my career. I went to a technical high school where we were only three women in a class, since then the only time there were a lot of women was 7 in the engineering department. At Aggreko I get to interact with other women from different departments or functions – but it would be great to have more women in the project management and engineering.
What has been your biggest learning from the last two years?
I have only been here for a year but trust it feels like I have been here for ages. To some extent I have become a library for most people, hahaha. The biggest lesson I have learnt is to be adaptable and try not to get overwhelmed by the pressure that we may encounter from time to time.