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Inside AVEVA: A global leader in industrial digital transformation

By Paul Brackley

Clare Bye is head of talent at AVEVA on Madingley Road, High Cross, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Clare Bye is head of talent at AVEVA on Madingley Road, High Cross, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

AVEVA software is behind major infrastructure projects and deployed in numerous industries across the world

AVEVA Graduates using the Microsoft HoloLens
AVEVA Graduates using the Microsoft HoloLens

You might not see it, but its influence is everywhere you look.

From shipbuilding to life sciences, from the cereals aisle in your supermarket to the gas in your home, and from a Las Vegas hotel to a Cambridgeshire water works, the work of AVEVA is ubiquitous.

The engineering and industrial software company is proud to call Cambridge its home – indeed, it grew out of the city’s government-funded Computer-Aided Design Centre, set up in 1967.

Today, having passed its half-century, it remains firmly headquartered here at High Cross, off Madingley Road, but is a truly global business, employing more than 4,400 people in 80-plus locations.

As CEO Craig Hayman pointed out at AVEVA’s World Summit in Palm Springs earlier this month, the company has 4,200 partners and 5,700 certified developers, manages 12,000-plus terabytes of information and its technology has been deployed in more than 100,000 sites.

Head of global talent, Clare Bye, says: “We employ some incredibly talented people and we’re very proud of that. Our projects are so different and the people who work here find that very exciting.

Anglian Water will work with AVEVA to detect leaks
Anglian Water will work with AVEVA to detect leaks

“We share a lot of stories internally about how our software is used in the development of some of the most amazing projects across the world. The ships our technology has helped to build, the plants and the organisations we work with, they’ll blow your mind.

“You might not know about us but ultimately what we do is truly amazing. We’re a company focused on improving our customers’ business through innovation – and we’ve even got a team of innovation evangelists.”

AVEVA’s end-to-end software solutions cover a full range of engineering and industrial requirements.

They enable the design, simulation and construction of plants and infrastructure, the monitoring and control of assets to improve efficiency, and the managing of supply chains or manufacturing operations.

Taken together they make AVEVA a global leader in industrial digital transformation.

And we’re in a new age of digitalisation in industry – an “inflection point”, as Mr Hayman, formerly of eBay and IBM, put it in his World Summit presentation.

MW Werften has extended its contract with AVEVA
MW Werften has extended its contract with AVEVA

Big data, cloud computing, virtual/augmented reality and the Internet of Things that will connect 20.4 billion ‘things’ by 2020 are revolutionising the way industry operates.

The digital twin has been born – a full representation of a machine or plant that can simulate operations and even predict problems before they occur.

Clare says: “When I was in California this week I had a chance to have a demonstration of the technology they are using.

“Using virtual and augmented reality, you can go into an asset, or plant, use a virtual toolkit, go up a lift, go to the fourth floor, check and repair something. It’s incredible. From a safety perspective, that’s so exciting.”

The technology can enable engineers to practise a repair on a complex operational asset before they set foot in it. Using technology developed for computer games, virtual, augmented and mixed reality can be used to aid design and provide predictive maintenance using data from a real-life asset.

With such technology, it’s not surprising that AVEVA attracts talented individuals with a range of technical skills. But what else is the company looking for in new recruits?

“Strong communication skills and the ability to work well in a team – we are a very collaborative organisation,” replies Clare.

“We want people who can cope with change. Everyone manages change differently but we are growing and are going through a complex integration,” she adds, referring to the merger earlier this year of AVEVA with Schneider Electric industrial software business.

“We work in more than 40 countries, so we are looking for people who want the opportunity to work for a truly global organisation,” says Clare, who leads on recruitment, engagement and culture at AVEVA.

“In technology and software companies you attract people motivated by the technical side and we want that too, but it’s more than that. The people who thrive are those who have a balance of skills.”

The company has an extensive outreach programme to help it recruit, and is among those in Cambridge working hard to address the gender imbalance in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) positions.

It collected Employer of the Year at the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) awards last year.

“I gave a presentation to WISE this morning about the 10 steps that our CEO has signed up to,” says Clare. “We’re also about to partner with Girls in Tech, a global not-for-profit organisation with chapters around the world.

“We go into primary schools and target the Year 5 and 6 age group, realising that some of the decisions about the GCSEs they choose are formed at that stage.

“In Cambridge, there is a receptive audience. A lot of their parents are working in science and technology.

“But there is a leaky pipeline, where girls are dropping out at different stages.

“We also communicate success stories internally. Ten of our female engineers attended the Society of Women Engineers conference in America.”

Once employed, AVEVA’s recruits can climb a career ladder, and become subject experts through a range of training, which includes classroom sessions and e-learning options for advance coding skills.

“We make sure there are touchpoints to improve skills,” says Clare. “We encourage people to attend conferences and give opportunities to work on more global projects. There are secondments and our graduates go on rotation between departments.

“As people progress their careers there is often the opportunity to go and work in another country for a while. It might be a project in Houston, for example, that needs a team on the ground.”

In Las Vegas, AVEVA’s technology is managing and monitoring power at the largest hotel and resort in the world – The Venetian, The Venezia Tower, the Sands Expo Convention Center, and The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

These international engagements are one reason recruits may be attracted to AVEVA. But Clare says jobseekers are also increasingly asking about a company’s commitment to its local community.

In response, AVEVA launched its Action for Good initiative this month, through which it has pledged to give one per cent of post-tax profits back to the local community. It includes a day’s paid leave for employees to carry out social wellbeing projects in their community.

“AVEVA’s commitment within its communities is very dear to our hearts. The contributions to different charities has gone down so well,” says Clare.

The company looks towards the 17 United Nations Global Sustainability Development Goals to help guide this effort.

“We are giving people an opportunity to volunteer within their own communities, help the environment or help the workplace to match one of those goals,” explains Clare. “But we want to keep it as open as we can because the spirit of this is about being motivated to give back. We’ve already had some great feedback and it’s something that people ask about far more now than ever before.”

It is another feather in the cap of a company that announced a trio of deals at its World Summit.

Anglian Water has employed an AVEVA smart water solution that compares real-time information with historic data, aiding the rapid detection of water leaks.

Major shipbuilder MV WERFTEN will use a greater range of software from the AVEVA portfolio to design and construct cruise ships, while Schneider Electric is driving its smart factory initiative through AVEVA’s software.

“We work in 15 different markets – such as oil and gas, mining, water, food and beverage,” notes Clare. “If you go into your local supermarket, our software most likely helped to ensure the cereal was produced efficiently. It’s used for things that touch people’s lives.”

And that, for many, will be reason enough to apply for the vacancies on offer in this fast-growing company.

More about the available roles here.

:: This article is part of our latest series, focusing on skills and talent, published in association with Grant Thornton and its Vibrant Economy initiative.

Read more from the series

Grant Thornton’s Owen Butler discusses recruitment, training and retention

Ridgeons’ Su Britter on building a positive team

CMR Surgical recruits the next generation of talent


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