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

Today we are in Georgia, US, with Stephanie Robinson, Director of Delivery Services.

Stephanie honed her leadership skills during 13 years as an officer in the US Navy where her final rank was Commander.

She talks to us about code-breaking and the Cloud.

Q.You spent over a decade in the Navy? What was your role?

A.I was somewhat disillusioned in my first job out of college (pharmaceutical sales). I was looking for something with more collaboration that aligned with my ‘servant leadership’ mindset.

I started as a junior officer in Cryptology.  I supervised young sailors who were code breakers, originally stationed in Misawa, Japan, and later working from various US locations.

When I joined, women were not permitted to work in combat positions, which meant I would not be able to deploy on a ship or plane. Though I missed out on the combat experience I gained significant experience in managing people, by leading the shore-based crew.

The downside was by the time Congress accepted that women could serve in combat positions, I was too senior to deploy as an apprentice.

Q.It was a good introduction to technology and its power?

A.So many of the technologies that are common in our office lives now were first implemented by the US Military.  We ushered in Chat, the world wide web, networking, and what became MS Office.

Q.What does your day-to-day role involve now?
A.My focus is in the utilities sector and my role is a mixture of people and project management.

I lead  projects and people in implementations, upgrades and process transformations.

We are about helping organisations manage their physical assets better. We analyse their business processes, how they do things, their end goal, how they want to do it then we make recommendations on best practice based on our experience and technical expertise.

Internally, as a people manager, I facilitate the professional development of my teams and support  their wellbeing within the company.

Q.So your work is about the people or the technology?
A.For a proper solution it has to be both and all.

A great technology that does not facilitate a good answer, or is difficult to use, will not be used once the excitement is over.

I’ve seen too many times when end users will print a screen or transfer their work to Excel because they weren’t aware of what the platform could do,  or felt like there were ‘too many screens’ or ‘too many clicks’ to do the work in the platform.

Technologies have to be as useful as they are purposeful.

Q.Cohesive is the biggest implementer of IBM Maximo. When was your first experience working with it?

A.It was at Turner, which I moved into after the Navy, as an executive assistant in Public Relations for Cartoon Network.  I was promoted into a role in the Facilities group working with Maximo. Even then, 17 years ago, Maximo was best in breed in enterprise asset management. It remains in that position today, and just keeps getting better.

Q.What differentiates it today from its competitors would you say? 
A.What differentiates Maximo is its cradle to grave capabilities and its relative simplicity. Maximo at its core is a highly efficient relational database. There was so much thought into keeping it asset centric that it works well right out of the box for most customers with very little customization needed even in the most complex operations (nuclear plants, aviation manufacturing, utilities, etc).

Q.How technologically mature are the clients you work with?
A.It’s a mixed bag in our area of operations.  You can often have people who are very mature with their processes, but not with the technology, or vice versa.  Well-meaning IT groups can implement technologies that do not align well with business functions. Cohesive bridges that gap because we bring both the technologies and the business functions together to determine the best solution for the client.

Q.Moving up to director level – a hard-won role? Any advice for those women seeking to progress their career in this way?
A.Women are often burdened with the impacts of Imposter Syndrome. Do your best to push pasts those instincts. You are often smarter than you even give yourself credit for.

It was our first experience of fully remote deployment of Maximo– and it was in a highly regulated sector where it had to be configured very precisely

Q.Biggest career achievement to date?

A.That would have to be leading a stellar team to implement a nuclear corrective action program during the Covid lockdown in 2020.

It was our first experience of fully remote deployment – and it was at a nuclear plant in Kansas. It was a  Maximo implementation in this highly regulated sector where it had to be very configured very precisely.

We were sceptical about doing it 100 per cent remotely, but we did do it, and we did it on time (in eight months), and on budget.  It was a fantastic team effort.

Our success was down to the outstanding team. This challenged even their own limits on communication and collaboration both within the team and with the client. It took a lot of hours, a lot of effort, and a team of extremely skilled professionals.

Q.You sit on a veterans group in Bentley? What role does that serve?

A.Bentley, our parent organisation, has several affinity support groups. The fact that leadership, specifically HR leadership, participate in those meetings and hear from other voices is phenomenal.

Cultural awakening comes from things as simple as book-club suggestions. Diversity is about experience, not just physical attributes. Different perspectives should always be embraced and explored.

Q.Women in the workplace have enjoyed some hard-fought gains over the years, but studies suggest female representation is still not keeping pace with men’s. What more should we be doing?

A.What needs to be done at this point needs to be done by the men. Men should be encouraged to challenge their implicit bias when it comes to women in the workforce. Whether issues of gender, sexual orientation, otherwise abled, or race, and whatever causes people to dismiss or under estimate others, at least in the US, the offended parties have done the work they need to do. It’s up to the offenders to grow now.

Q.What would you say to asset owners hearing about all of these new technologies – Digital twins, AI etc and not knowing where to start?

A.Talk with experts about what you are trying to do and let them recommend solutions based on your needs that fit your operations and your industry, not just your IT profile.

Q.What are some of the key mistakes asset intensive organisations make with regard to their introduction of digital tools and ways of working?

A.Implementing technologies without understanding what question they are answering or problem they are solving. Do an assessment first. Identify what the end goal is, then identify and implement the technology.  Then, understand that all change needs support.  Manage the change impact for your team to help them be invested in the success of the solution.

Q.Outside of work I like to….

A.I get terrific joy out of watching my son, Myles North, pursue his career in the US Coast Guard. I’m interested in all things art, especially music and I’ve been singing with various groups most of my life. I am a resin artist, I paint, and I love to travel.  My family and I are active in our church, and I am a voracious reader from biographies to comic books.  It’s great to be eclectic in your tastes because you can always find things that interest you.


For more information on how Cohesive can support you with digital solutions and  getting the best from your assets, please contact us here. 

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