Domtar Personal Care’s business intelligence and analytics team (left to right): Tiffany Delano (Global Business Intelligence Manager), Daniel Egbe (Data Warehousing Programmer), Alisha Thompson (Global Director of Business Intelligence), Jon Greene (Business Analyst II) and Yash Shah (Data Scientist).[/caption]
The business intelligence and analytics team is a nimble group of five colleagues who call themselves the “Singing Data Ninjas.” It’s an apt description for a group whose work draws on several disciplines: arts, science, engineering and management. It’s also a reflection of Thompson’s penchant for team-building activities, such as running a 5K and singing karaoke.
The team works closely with internal stakeholders to understand their business needs. Using MicroStrategy, a business intelligence tool, to consolidate and analyze enterprise information from around the globe, the team can propose customized dashboards and reporting solutions that translate the data into targeted actions.
Lee West, Domtar’s vice president of IT and procurement, and general manager of EAM, highly values the team’s work. “It’s one of my priorities this year to see greater usage of the business intelligence platform across the organization. It brings us quantifiable business results,” he says.
For example, the finance team can use analytics to quickly identify areas for cost savings, and colleagues in Europe can optimize opportunities related to foreign exchange rates. In addition, the reporting tools save time by automating manual processes.
Christopher Wachter, group senior manager of finance and planning at Domtar, says, “We needed consolidated financials from all businesses. By automating how we pull together data, we save at least a day on our month-end process.”
These results are possible thanks to a business intelligence and analytics team that is thriving under Thompson’s guidance and the calm, insightful leadership of West. Team members share many common traits, such as grit, optimism and an extreme talent for working with data. But the group also celebrates individual strengths and achievements.
“The motto for Personal Care is ‘It’s Personal.’ It stems from the fact that we make consumer products — absorbent hygiene solutions — that improve quality of life for people,” Thompson says. “We internalize this, keeping our focus on the difference that each of us can make.”
Thompson appreciates this culture of inclusion, particularly when she thinks back to her university days when she was one of few women in her field. Since then, the gender gap has narrowed dramatically. After completing a master’s degree in computer science in 2006, she helped distribute scholarships for the Western Kentucky University’s math and science programs, and the majority of recipients were women.
A lot has changed since Thompson was 8, but she hasn’t lost her passion for computer science or for conquering new challenges, and those passions are helping to move our business forward today.