For me, the preparation was an important step in ensuring a successful Quest experience. My primary objectives in applying for a Quest were 1) to learn more about how other ARCADIS business groups operate and govern their Business Intelligence departments/projects; and 2) to share knowledge, connect, and communicate with colleagues in a similar function and different part of the world. Since our own Business Intelligence department at ARCADIS NV is relatively new, I knew that there were many best practices and lessons learned by others that could be beneficial for us to apply. Also, since the trend within ARCADIS is to move from a decentralized BI organization to a more cohesive global BI community, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to get a jump-start in meeting and sharing ideas with my global counterparts. By focusing on these objectives, my manager and I were able to identify the US as a viable option for my Quest. She helped to put me in contact with people in the US, so that the logistical side of things could begin moving forward. After a host manager within the AUS BI team was identified, I filled out the Quest application and luckily quickly received confirmation that I had been approved. In the weeks just prior to flying to Denver, I exchanged emails with my host manager, Colleen Duke, who coordinated an agenda for my time there and made sure the people I would be talking to would be available—no small feat since the AUS’ BAR (Business Analytics Reporting) team is geographically scattered across the country.
On Sunday I flew from Amsterdam to Denver, rented a car, and made my way to my hotel in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, just down the street from the AUS corporate office. I went to sleep early that evening, and by 4:30 a.m. Monday morning I was wide awake and eager to get started. This may have been partially due to the time difference, but mostly I was just excited!
One of the biggest surprises to me while speaking with the people involved in the AUS BI organization are the very similar experiences and challenges we have faced—there in the US and here in the Netherlands. This only underscored to me the value in communicating and sharing with our colleagues around the world, and how much we can learn from each other. There are also of course differences in the BI organization in the US and at ARCADIS NV. In the US, IT plays a much larger role, while at ARCADIS NV, BI is more Finance driven. The US also has more formalized processes and procedures, although this is becoming more the case at NV as well. I was able to see the dashboards that have been created by the BAR team which are a huge leap forward in providing access to data and insights which can improve the operations and steering of the company. The IT service management tool used within the US will also be implemented shortly within our own office, so hearing about how they have used it for better documentation was of interest to me. It was also an eye-opener to gain understanding about the data governance organization that the US had set up as part of their BI objectives, and the high priority this had for them. It provided me with some additional motivation to make this a focus area for my own department. I was very fortunate to have Colleen Duke as my host manager, as she has been involved in many different areas of the business, and was a great resource for me during my time there.
The people in the US office who I met during my time there made the week incredibly enjoyable. They were very generous with sharing their time and knowledge with me. On Wednesday evening the majority of the group went out to a Spanish restaurant to enjoy paella, stories, and laughs. The last afternoon of the Quest, AUS’ CFO Pete Dyke took our group to lunch and was interested to hear about our experiences and how the week had been.
Since I’m originally from the US, I was also excited to re-visit and re-discover my favorite restaurants and foods which aren’t available abroad. And although we didn’t realize it until we met in the bathroom, another Dutch co-worker was also on a Quest to the US during the same week. This was her first time in the US, and I had fun seeing some typical American sights (such as the enormous mall) and customs through her eyes.
When I came back to my office, I shared my experiences and key take-aways with my team members, as well as the questions the AUS team had posed to me and was interested to learn more about as the global BI organization begins to form. In the next few weeks I will share about my Quest to a broader group of Finance colleagues at our monthly lunch meeting, and I also hope to help in forming and strengthening the global ARCADIS BI community throughout the upcoming year. Many thanks to Colleen, Gordon, Ulises, Fidelia, Rhonda, and Pete for helping to make my Quest such a success!