We sat down with Dilraj Sehdev as he embarks upon his new role as Adastra’s Executive Director, US West, to talk about data management trends and his vision for expanding Adastra’s offerings further into the United States.
As you look to build Adastra’s business in the US West, what kinds of customers are you looking to attract?
One thing our clients all hold in common is a need to leverage their data. Their challenges are unique, of course, and run the gamut from a desire to accelerate innovation, improve operational excellence, or create an unforgettable customer experience. Sometimes our clients don't know what they need, they just know they have data and could, or should, be managing it better and using it to their advantage. Oftentimes these are the best clients.
An ideal customer isn’t necessarily the one who comes to us with a clear idea of what they need, expecting us to have all of the answers and solve all of their problems overnight. We look to work with customers that would benefit from a partnership, equally committed to going through the process with us - willing to be agile, take risks, innovate and execute. These customers realize the incremental value received from every step along the journey.
Are you seeing any big trends among companies?
Supply chain management challenges are a very common subject amongst many companies, across all industries. Companies are increasingly seeking better, more efficient ways to handle inventory forecasting, supply and demand management and transportation optimization. Whether you are in retail, manufacturing, natural resources, you name it - supply chain integration is crucial to increasing efficiencies, decreasing opportunity costs, and achieving operational excellence.
How do you find success offering services like data science, which people often don’t fully comprehend?
When we first partner with a client, we are very clear on the feasibility of what can be delivered. What is realistic is not always a sunshine and rainbows result. We have the experience and creativity to foresee what data science models are feasible and how they will add value to turn vision into effective solutions. What makes me most proud, is that our customers have praised Adastra for really doing what we say we’re going to do.
How is Adastra managing the risks of using data as companies transform?
No doubt, data security is always top of mind. Adastra practices security by design, which accounts for and builds data security into the core IT management processes; it’s an extensive way to prevent cyberattacks.
Prior to your new role leading the company’s US West expansion, you spent several years in the Calgary office. Can you tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of?
In the four years I have been with Adastra, I’ve been fortunate to work on so many interesting projects, each with their own unique challenges. I am proud of the relationships I’ve cultivated with both customers as well as our valued technology partners.
One recent success that stands out is the investment from our technology partner SCALE AI made in Adastra to build a supply chain optimization project for our customer, Taiga Building Products. The project used AI to enable data-driven decisions on critical elements of Taiga’s supply chain, resulting in a direct impact to the consumer with available inventory, reducing transportation and storage costs, and optimizing supply and demand of trending products.
This is the second project SCALE AI funded for Adastra this year, demonstrating the partner’s commitment to Adastra and its confidence in our ability to build impactful, data-driven solutions for our customers.
What are you hoping to build in LA, following Adastra’s success in Calgary?
We are aiming for rapid growth from Adastra’s US West operation. I plan to add four people to our executive management team by the end of the year. The US West is a key data and technology hub and we have big plans. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to bring the company’s culture to a new market. Being backed by the power of an established company with strong infrastructure and years of experience, we’re going to make huge strides in the LA Metropolitan Area and the rest of the West Coast.
In a tight labor market, how do you start from scratch to attract and retain top talent?
Building the LA office is as an opportunity to grow a whole new set of leaders. Leaders who not only have the foundational knowledge we’re looking for, but the bold vision to grow our company and add value to clients in new and exciting ways. Yes, finding resources with the right skill sets can be a challenge. Luckily, I am backed by a company with global resources and a very strong in-house training program, proven to get employees upskilled and ready to hit the ground running in a short timeframe.
What is your vision for Adastra and the next decade of data?
Data is the most valuable asset for all organizations. I think we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible in leveraging data and this is a cultural shift that many organizations will adopt over the next decade. The amount of data is going to grow along with ways to use it, and the use cases will be constantly changing. What often starts as a one-to-one model in which an application is built for a company to serve one purpose, can quickly escalate into additional users within that company looking to leverage the data in new ways and for different purposes. Scaling our solutions from a one-to-one model to a one-to-many model is where I see real opportunity for our company and our clients alike.
We know that leveraging data is your life’s work, but what are some of your interests outside of Adastra?
I’m big into outdoor activities such as hiking or biking in the summer and skating or snowboarding. In Calgary, I had access to such beautiful nature near the Rocky Mountains and stunning lakes in the prairies. Now that I’m on the West Coast of the US, perhaps I’ll give surfing a shot! I’m excited to live in SoCal and soak in that way of life, being right by the ocean and all.