Company Spotlight: Ascension Team

Travis
Ziebro

PL0: Congrats on your recent announcement that you are starting Ascension Consulting. Talk to us about your digitalization experience. 

Thank you, it’s been an exciting journey launching a new company focused on helping businesses achieve their aspirations. My passion for technology, efficiency, and performance culminating together to create value has always been a key theme for me. It started early in high school when I took several computer electives but was often so far ahead my instructor encouraged me to see what I could do beyond the curriculum. I ended up developing two video games while learning a great deal about animation, programming, and computational limits.

As I entered the corporate world as a petroleum engineer, I often leveraged my continuous improvement, innovation, and technology skills to improve efficiency and decision making. On a side project with a reservoir characterization team at Anadarko, I created an integrated subsurface understanding by building a data integration website integrating log and core data, core photos, cross-sections, and geological annotations.

While an Egyptian expat at BP, I created and automated the intervention prioritization process maximizing the capital efficiency and realized value. As a petroleum engineer at BHP, I designed and executed a modernized real-time data platform allowing operational insights and accelerating new ways of working.

These experiences culminated to leading BHP’s Petroleum Digital Transformation where my team and I adopted a breadth of modernized technology, uplifted IT performance, launched citizen development, delivered over 25 products at a tenth of the cost and duration, and accelerated our target culture and ways of working. These transformation and digitalization experiences across my career built both the capabilities and opportunity to start Ascension Consulting Team. 

PL0: What inspired you to start Ascension Consulting Team? What gave you the confidence to go out on your own?

My inspiration to start Ascension Consulting Team came from the observation that many successful businesses, both large and small, are missing out on major value opportunities by leveraging modern technology, processes, and ways of working. Over time, this is creating a competitive disadvantage where their competitors are using a large balance sheet and significant resources to stand up major Digitalization and Transformation efforts.

Given my breadth of experience in the industry, technology, innovation, and business strategy, I know the Ascension Consulting team is uniquely positioned to help a breadth of businesses across industries be successful and achieve their aspirations.

One of Ascension Consulting Team’s key differentiators is our focus to go beyond the traditional high-cost, polished strategy PowerPoints and be a partner in execution delivering results. Based on my experience as a customer of many large, traditional consulting firms, this gives us great confidence we have a unique offering that benefits many businesses. 

PL0: Talk to us about some trends you see in the industrial market.

Our launch timing aligns wells with several macro events and trends happening in business and the world today, allowing us to help businesses accelerate performance and adapt to a transforming world. A few key trends we work with our clients to leverage are: 

  • Post Pandemic era: As businesses emerge from survival mode during the pandemic, many are considering the right approach between returning to business-as-usual and incorporating learnings from the pandemic – not just how they conduct business with their customers, but how they run their teams and make decisions. 
  • ESG: Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) are quickly becoming crucial non-financial value drivers to be a successful business, attract investors, and be a valued community partner. Businesses are increasingly seeking to incorporate ESG into their business strategy, but with limited regulation, standards, or best practices, are finding the path to success challenging. 
  • Digitalization: As with all previous industrial revolutions, the right tool and technique vastly improves productivity and can be leveraged to create new ways of working and new business models. It is no different for Industrial Revolution 4.0 where digital technology can be leveraged to help businesses make better decisions faster and more efficiently to realize higher performance, increased revenue, and lower costs. 
  • Modernized Teaming: A breadth of digital and communications technologies combined with increasingly specialized skillsets is creating both a supply and demand of modernized resourcing and teaming models where team members are a mix of traditional employees and gig economy workers and teams aren’t defined by an org chart for years but by a single goal for weeks or months. Many forward-thinking businesses are quickly adopting modernized teaming and resourcing – often making mistakes along the way but learning quickly and ultimately emerging more effective with access to broader skillsets. 
  • True Transformation: True Transformation is the short-term, high intensity project that should deliver a business from what it is today to what it needs to be tomorrow while minimizing the impact to the normal course of business and bottom line. Many have and are trying – expending significant time, money, and resources — but it is a rare few that have successfully developed sound Business, Transformation, and Technology Strategies and successfully executed to realize their full value and performance potential. 

As you can imagine, many businesses, even large Enterprises, are often resourced to deliver their business and not take on a breadth of new initiatives and projects. Or when they do take them on, their efforts are fragmented across traditional functions and leverage scarce experts with specialties in often on just one or two of these trends.

The complexity of the endeavor and scarcity of resources is why businesses partner with Ascension Consulting Team. They can leverage our experience and expertise, shorten their learning curve, gain a partner in execution, and ultimately realize high value quickly and cost-efficiently. 

PL0: What’s a quick digitalization win that everyone’s overlooking right now?

Getting data right. Often software companies or IT professionals in companies are focused on exciting new technology like AI or machine learning. Most operators, engineers, geoscientists, and executives are great data analysts and even better decision-makers. However, they frequently lack the trustworthy and integrated data to perform the right level of analysis at the right depth and frequency to create the best outcomes. Don’t get me wrong, AI and machine learning are powerful technologies that have significant value potential, but many data scientists spend 80% to 90% of their time managing data for the same challenges. 

Traditionally, many large organizations have tried to address this and spent many years seeking to get data right by standing up large data governance projects led by IT and owned by data councils. The secret to getting data right is to have a relentless focus on business value, an agile mindset, and an iterative approach to continuously improve data and realize value while layering in fit-for-purpose governance over time.

This approach ensures rapid, forward progress delivering value and keeping an organization engaged instead of spending months or years planning and structuring governance which can often lose momentum due to the high cost and slow progress. It also creates the foundation for rapid and cost-efficient adoption of new tools and technology like AI and machine learning. 

PL0: Let’s say I’m a subject matter expert, but don’t feel particularly comfortable about the continually increasing role of technology in my business. What would you tell me?

Digital technology is a great tool, but nothing more and nothing less. These digital tools are eliminating the tedious and mundane work that many technical staff, field personnel, and executives begrudgingly must do today enabling them to exclusively focus on high-value work tomorrow – resulting in better decisions being made faster and more efficiently. 

PL0: So it is month 5 of the entrepreneur journey. Let’s flash forward 50 months from now. What’s Ascension Consulting Team up to?

Helping businesses achieve their aspirations — no different than today except with a longer track record and doing it on a global scale where we can have a positive impact on businesses, communities, and governments around the world. As with all businesses, we’ll need to continue to learn, adapt, and grow to maintain our unique offering and value proposition to clients. What I am hoping is different is that Ascension Consulting Team has set the new standard for consulting with a focus on creating value – disrupting the traditional consultant model where the focus is on putting polished presentations with a little strategy rather than on creating value. 

PL0: What’s the best way to keep up with Ascension?

The easiest ways are our website, newsletter, and LinkedIn page. We’ll continue to share our knowledge, celebrate our successes, and facilitate the conversations amongst our network to collaborate and create value.