What does … a Director Data Services?

Name: Joost F. Hillringhaus

Age: 35

Position: Director Data Services

Education: MA Sinology, Political Sciences, Media and Culture

Company: iCompetence GmbH

What do you do?

As Director of Data Services, I lead two teams that together form the operational core of iCompetence. We specialize in harnessing data across the enterprise and the “other world” of it, from implementation through analysis to strategic consulting for digitization. This concerns data from very different sources in the age of AI and omnichannel – the carousel turns fast.

The team Data Engineering has several focal points in the areas of concept development, implementation and support of (almost) all relevant data acquisition and data processing tools. The Data Science team joins in as the next logical step and specializes in meaningfully staging and bringing the collected data sets to life. By expanding this team, we create a solidarity between technological expertise and actual consulting expertise for our customers, from the large data strategy to concrete and short-term recommendations for action. The goal is a data innovation forge, which will meet the changing needs of customers in the context of digital changes. There is a lot going on and that is exciting. I can accompany and help shape the necessary change.


How did you come to this task?

I already worked while studying at a digital creative agency in Hamburg. That seemed to me much more exciting than the always next student job in the catering industry. I soon realized that I liked the industry very much – young people, always new input and structures that claim to actually work. And they therefore have to constantly put to the test whether they meet internal and external demands. The constant rejuvenation as a result of this way of thinking keeps both head and heart always open to new things, I liked that.

After a good ten years in the platform and campaign business, however, it was time to question myself and readjust in which direction I would like to develop. That’s why I switched to iCompetence earlier this year. As a boutique consultancy, but this is the digital spearhead in their field, this place can offer me more creative potential and new input, as “only” in large structures to make small differences.

Describe as clearly as possible a project that has particularly impressed you

I was enthusiastic from the beginning to see how a very scientific data analysis, a rather “dry” process, a strategic turnaround and a real, for all participants comprehensible result. We have just done a very elaborate analysis for a company in the retail industry, because the customer had difficulties with his data and suspected a mistake in the system, which he could not find himself. We were able to solve the problem in the end, but we also opened up a few fields of action that the customer was not aware of.

Nowadays, companies really do not suffer from having too little data available. Using a data analysis to identify a weak spot in a customer’s digital infrastructure and have recommendations for action that “fill the gap” is a great feeling.
On the one hand, the consulting services that we as a company can provide are real added value and can be measured against them. On the other hand, such projects are also groundbreaking for a development that we wish for ourselves: with the technical expertise that we have to deliver convincing work to the customer through holistic thinking.

Which feature helps you the most in your everyday life? Why?

Empathy. Where does the other one come from, what does he know, what not, what must he know? Say: Where do I have to pick someone up to challenge him, promote him and make him a pillar in the team?

A big part of my task is the critical questioning of grown and lived structures and processes. Now we live in a time, in which not only the product of a company ever changes, but also work itself changes. This creates new challenges, which often lack the one citable answer – that can burden us all and create insecurity. Against this background, it is all the more important to motivate positively and to be binding in the best sense of the word. The basic requirement for this, in my opinion, is to understand and develop one’s counterpart in its basic structure.
Often it’s basically small changes that make it a success. To start the right developments with the right questions or to adjust the team layout a bit can make a big difference.

My job is indispensable because …

What is indispensable? My job is so great because I have other skills than many of my colleagues and can (hopefully) roll stones out of the way. That’s where my experience in the creative industry benefits me. And sometimes my ignorance. After all, as a trained sinologist I have less technical knowledge than my colleagues. I often have the eyes of the marketeer and take the customer’s view. If you have convinced me of a solution, we can certainly also convey it to the customer. And then I also learned a lot. I can not wish for more win / win.

If you were not Director Data Services, what would you be?

If I was not in a customer meeting for a platform relaunch, then maybe deep into plans for a private guest house in Taranaki, New Zealand.

Also interesting: What does actually … a technical consultant?

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Professionals have the choice today. The employer therefore has a lot to offer. A clear culture of values, diversity and attitude – that is at the top of the agenda! In the current LEAD Bookazine 2/2019, you will now read about the new power of skilled workers, IT retraining retraining and Do-It-Yourself executives.

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