Lessons from the branch for scaling up Data & AI at Reece

Data & AI at Reece is at an exciting inflection point — poised at the heel of the proverbial growth hockey stick. As the core Data & AI practice is coalescing, ‘customers’ of our services and capabilities have growing enthusiasm (off a high baseline) for realising the value of data in improving operations, decision-making, and service innovation. The primary challenge at hand is ramping up, ramping in a sustainable way, and ramping the Reece Way.

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Photo by Burak K from Pexels

What got us here won’t get us there

Our team works with a strikingly diverse swathe of the business — operations, marketing, pricing, finance, logistics, people experience, reecetech through to our C-suite —…


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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

I was drawn to Reece in part because of its willingness to play the long game. With branch time, the business’s operational excellence was on full display, leading me to reflect on how core operating disciplines translate when delivering data solutions .

It is rare for a stakeholder discussion to go by without some reference to the proverbial project management triangle. “Good, cheap or fast: pick two” is its most rudimentary form, and it has become a standard resource management framework for the disciplined delivery manager, who must balance the cost, time and scope constaining the quality of outcomes delivered.


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Photo by Tania Melnyczuk on Unsplash

Branch Time at Reece: Not your everyday induction program

I’m feeling the blues as my brief stint with the incredible team at Reece Caulfield soon concludes. Branch Time, as I’ve come to know it, is an induction ritual that helps new starters at Reece experience the beating heart of the business by spending time “working” (more on this later) alongside frontline teams. In the lead up I’d spoken to a few colleagues-to-be who generously shared their own Branch Time stories. Combined with Cam’s brilliant capture of his own experience, I realised this would be an onboarding experience to talk about.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself”

Having worked a short spell in retail during my…


And telling them apart

A few weeks ago I picked up a little book by Carlo Cipolla on impulse, led by its juicy title to think it might bring some satirical amusement. I was surprised with a balanced (although still hilarious) exposition on the human capacity for generating outcomes — be they net gains or losses. In his book Cipolla establishes a framework for evaluating these gains and losses; it struck me that two categories — Bandits and Intelligence (let’s call these Intellectuals) — map to my experiences with hiring.

  • Bandits who take actions to benefit themselves at the expense of others: There’s always…


Making Sense of Big Data

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Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

I often return to a 2011 article by Harlan Harris when I think about building data science capability. Data science career paths, Harris proposes, are defined by its practitioners from a variety of disciplines, and its popularity built on the same narrative that saw the rise of of sabermetrics in baseball (i.e. Moneyball) — that an exotic mix of talents applied in quantitative analysis can yield superior outcomes to gut instinct.

I am inclined to agree; data science is an unusual field. It is deep (combining research methods, statistics, machine learning and computer science; plenty of definitional treatise exists) and…


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Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

Lessons from a pandemic on the ‘Art of the Possible’

In June, I had a bite-sized taste of digital innovation — a surprise delivery of pandan-flavoured choux au craquelin. Cream-filled puffs deliciously marrying two cuisines (French and Southeast Asian), and two business models (cottage industries and digital marketing). A friend had discovered a home-based patissier on Instagram; with a click and a message, they gifted a chance to revisit childhood memories of pandan-flavoured desserts, bringing cheer in the middle of a grim lockdown.

COVID-19 is a trauma that will scar many in the years to come. In many ways it has tested our resilience, forcing businesses, communities, and governments to…


You may have heard this one before:

A

One of Aesop’s fables, it speaks to some of…


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Photo by Uriel SC on Unsplash

Margin Call is one of my favourite films — and this line from the movie happens to be one of my all-time favourite quips. In the throes of academia when I first watched the film, it brought dry comic relief, mirroring my experience walking into thesis-defence seminars regularly packed with senior academics of the time-poor, highly acerbic variety.

In my time working as a consultant in data and digital transformation I have witnessed an insatiable appetite for “easy-to-understand” headlines, like “data-driven culture” or “leverage our data”. A…

Michelle-Joy Low

Econometrician, always curious, loves growing people, and helping businesses use data. These days I lead Data & AI @ reecetech, but all views here are my own.

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