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To mark UNESCO’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on February 11, we are running a series of Q&As with women across our business.

Today we are in Georgia, US, with Solution Architect, Gisele Marks.

She talks to us about Pennsylvania life, her river passion, and propelling asset maintenance to the next level.

Q.When did you realise STEM was for you?

A.I grew up in Pennsylvania, in a city located along the Monongahela River, and near two other large rivers, the Allegheny and the Ohio. I gained a fascination with water and the fish and bugs that live in it. It gave me an interest in biology and science more generally – even in this highly industrial, steel mill town.

In 11th and 12th grade, a group of engineers from Pittsburgh came to my small town (McKeesport, PA) to tutor twice a week. They encouraged minority students to pursue engineering and science careers and they set me on my track.

Once at the University of Pittsburgh, my interest grew after I spent a wonderful summer at Lake Erie doing water testing quality.

Later, I went on to work as a tester for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which inspired me to continue my education in Civil/Environmental Engineering.

Q.Tell us about your role at Cohesive?

A. I work in asset management as a solution architect – helping our clients to maintain the value of their assets through gathering data and defining processes that support their operations and maintenance strategy. By implementing technology solutions such as Maximo asset management software, I help to meet my clients’ specific business and industry needs.

My role always starts with listening – I sit down and listen to the client and learn about their business goals and objectives. I help them understand how digital technologies can get them to where they want to be.

I use both my design engineering experience and cross-industry (e.g.water, wastewater, power, aviation) knowledge of Maximo implementations.

Q.Can we overstate the importance of asset maintenance?

A. No, it cannot be overstated. If maintenance is not carried out rigorously and efficiently, the potential problems are many: Operational issues, safety issues, risks issues, depreciation issues.

Sadly, catastrophes like Deep Horizon have shown us this.

Q.You work across industries?

A. Yes – so the assets of the client I’m working with might be found in wastewater treatment facilities, hospitals, airports, aviation, or power plants.

One of my first projects in my early career was leading on Maximo implementation for Hartsfield Jackson Atalanta International Airport.

My work was both functional and technical, performing business process design and  gap assessments to determine what actions or software configurations were needed.

Our objectives included ensuring maximum value was gained from the technology, incorporating FAA requirements and documenting information for management and operational decisions.

But the broader goal of my work was to help the airport achieve its vision of providing a ”world class” service to its passengers and users.

Within each organisation, our Maximo cross functional-technical teams work, closely with their Subject Matter Experts.  Ahead of the project start, I will always do a deep dive to prepare and build a foundational knowledge of the business and industry. I will study the assets, gain an understanding of the critical systems, the regulatory requirements and so on, to lead collaboration and provide  process and design solutions.

Q.Are you ever surprised that asset owner/operators are not more advanced in their adoption of digital tools and solutions to support the performance of their assets?

A. No – technology is fast moving, and an organisation’s resources and infrastructure may be contributing factors in adoption.

If maintenance is not carried out rigorously and efficiently, the potential problems are many: Operational issues, safety issues, risks issues, depreciation issues.

Q.Why do we need diverse teams?

A.Diversity across race, age, and culture brings an array of viewpoints and problem-solving skills to the table. We are still a society that clusters, shares, and works alongside with people who look like them or have similar experiences.  We may have limited colleague experiences with someone who does not come from the same country or background. The same goes for working in a team with women or people of colour. We all need to build on each other’s strengths.

Q.Tips for those embarking on their careers?

A.Know where the world is going by reading journals and watching the news – and go with it. Think about complementary proficiencies to your main focus – what about learning a language for example?

Stay current, read, discuss, ask questions, and follow what is happening around the globe.

I love to share the knowledge and wisdom I have gained through my 23 years in this industry, and I was recently proud to be the focus of the STEM Block podcast.

Also – Slow down sometimes! Trying to have a good work life balance – especially when you are keen to prove yourself – can be hard. You have to know when you need to shift priorities and when to shift that gear. And sometimes you have to say no.

Q.Outside of work I like to…

A.Spend time with my children and grandchildren, get involved in science outreach activities, attend theatre plays and live music concerts in a wide range of genres including jazz, R&B and classical.

Q.Inspiring Reads?

A.Who Moved My Cheese? (Spencer Johnson)
Captivate (Vanessa Van Edwards);
The Essential 55(Ron Clark)

For more information on how Cohesive can support you with digital solutions and support to get the best from your assets, please contact Gisele.

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