Jessica Van den Heuvel & William Sluyters: Supporting the digital transformation of the Utilities industry

Jun 23, 2020

Jessica Van den Heuvel and William Sluyters both have a couple of years’ experience working as a consultant at delaware. Recently, they joined the newly created Utilities team, in which Jessica took up the role of team lead and William joined as an SAP IS-U consultant. Managing and building well-functioning industry solutions for major Utilities companies in a new start-up team. What’s that like?

First days at delaware

Both Jessica and Williamstarted their careers at delaware in 2016. After graduating as a Master in Organizational Psychology, it didn’t take Jessica long to know she had found the right employee match. She was sold the minute she walked into the delaware offices right before her first job interview: “I was pleasantly surprised by how people interacted with each other, and how the open culture of delaware resonated with my own personality. The fact that you can walk up to a managing partner and simply ask how his or her day is going, speaks volumes about our flat company structure with a lot of room for entrepreneurship.

After his studies in Business Engineering, William looked for a consultancy job where he could work with the latest technologies and solve the challenges they bring with them. “Especially the combination of a small-scale office in Wavre – where you can have a lot of contact with colleagues – and the international reach of the company was the motivator for me. It’s a huge asset to work with other countries, such as Spain and Brazil in my case, and learn from their way of working.”

William was one of the first junior hires in the delaware expansion into Wallonia. That must have been very exciting! “It really was,” William says. “We had a tightly knit group of 6 starters from Wallonia getting their bootcamp training in Kortrijk and we instantly bonded with each other over this shared experience. It was really assuring to have like-minded colleagues to fall back on in those first days.”

Get to know the new Utilities team at delaware

Dynamic learning curve

The support of her colleagues also gave Jessica the boost she needed to grow into her job as a consultant: “I’m quite young to be a team lead,” she admits, “but my team members – of some of whom I could be a daughter – have confidence in my abilities and that respect goes both ways.” During her first years at delaware, Jessica got the opportunity to experiment in a safe environment so she could grow in certain capabilities, such as project management. “For instance, they made me the project manager of a small, short-term project when I mentioned that I wanted to build experience in this direction. This was a real eye-opener for me and set me on my current career path.”

During his Utilities projects, William got the chance to work on diverse tasks, face new challenges and gain expertise in cutting-edge technologies, while learning a great deal from his more experienced colleagues in the Utilities team. “Even if there aren’t any other members from the Utilities team working on a project, you can still fall back on many supportive delaware colleagues or interact with the customer’s IT team,” he explains.

Thanks to the many opportunities at delaware both Jessica and William were able to grow to a senior consultant position earlier this year. “delaware looks for people who want to be their best possible selves.” William mentions. “They won’t hesitate to promote you when you are putting in the daily effort. That is why commitment is so important in this job: if you give it your all – even in difficult times – you will eventually see the results.”

Today, our dream stands stronger than ever. delaware looks for people who want to be their best possible selves. They won’t hesitate to promote you when you are putting in the daily effort.
William Sluyters, SAP IS-U consultant

The Utilities team: stacks of experience bundled in a start-up mentality

The delaware Utilities team was established in January of 2020 and still carries many of the characteristics of a start-up. Every one of the 17 colleagues can have their say in the development of the team and they are eagerly awaiting new talent to strengthen their number. Jessica: “Currently we have a lot of experienced people in our team, more than 200 years of combined experience to be exact, which is why we are currently looking to balance out the team with enthusiastic new colleagues who are interested in Utilities or who have a couple of years of experience in this industry.”

As most of the members of the Utilities team work fulltime at the customer’s site, everyone keeps in contact through mail, chat, regular personal check-in calls, our weekly virtual utilities café and team meetings. Additionally, there are several innovations in the works that are meant to boost the sharing of technical know-how and skills. “As we are a new solution,” Jessica states, “we are planning to create initiatives such as a master class ‘Fundamentals in Utilities’ and lunch sessions where people can share and discuss certain topics. We are still in our start-up phase, so we are open to input from everyone to shape and improve these initiatives.”

Digital transformation in Utilities

The current IT projects in Utilities offer a lot of opportunities for the future, as these companies are increasingly shifting to a more connected, technology-based approach to their business. “Especially the advancements in smart grid technology give us a lot of unique challenges to come up with innovative solutions,” according to William. “The boom in electric cars or solar panels, for instance, have greatly influenced the need for big data and artificial intelligence in smart meter projects for Utilities companies.”

Jessica and William experience these significant changes in this industry in their day-to-day activities as well. Customers in Utilities increasingly look to digitize their services by integrating their frameworks with other players in the market. As all these networks need to be aligned for easy data collection per household, the IT services of delaware are frequently requested. “The great thing about our work at delaware,” William mentions, “is that our IT solutions are seen not just as a cost center, but as a support for the business and the daily activity of the customer.

“We make the difference in Utilities, because we truly understand the need of the customer, and have the talent and size to deliver a top-notch solution within the expected timeframe,” William proudly states. The key to this is how delaware organizes its Utilities projects. “Every detail, from start to finish, is done by the same company, which has a full overview of the scope, from the need to the solution. In cooperation with colleagues from other delaware teams, you can engage with every stage of the project and see where your assignment fits into the whole.”

“During these long-term projects, we are always very pragmatic in our way of working and involve the customer as much as possible from the start of our project,” Jessica explains. The delaware network organization allows you to consult colleagues with a specific expertise at any given moment when you have questions regarding a particular topic. “This connection between experts of different teams is one of our strong suits, and makes our innovative customer solutions work together seamlessly.”

Looking ahead

In their next few years at delaware, Jessica and William want to share the knowledge they acquired and support newcomers in the new structure of the Utilities team. “Because our team is still young and growing, we’re very involved in the development of new learning documentation to help starting colleagues understand this business better. We want to build a dedicated Utilities team within delaware Belgium, contribute to internal competency building and support the international growth of the Utilities department. And all of this of course in collaboration with our colleagues, so we can become trusted partners within the Utilities industry!”

In conclusion, which tips and tricks would Jessica and William give to their younger selves when they started at delaware? “There are quite a few, but here are some of the most important ones:

  1. Know yourself and your capabilities, and be sure to ask for help when you need it. Be patient, as building experience takes years. Don’t expect to be an expert from day one.
  2. Give it your all when working on a project and you will surely reap the benefits. Set goals for yourself but don’t push too hard when things go slower than expected.
  3. Socialize, preferably with people you don’t already know. E.g. by saying hello/good morning, join a conversation at the coffee machine or during lunch, work at another office… It might feel awkward in the beginning but the #peopleofdelaware are always open to it!”

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