Janne Sigurdsson is Alcoa’s Chief Information Officer, responsible for IT strategy, operations and innovation opportunities worldwide as well as security of the Company’s vast network of information. Most recently, Janne was Managing Director of Alcoa Fjardaál in Iceland, one of Alcoa’s newest and most efficient aluminum smelters.
Janne joined Alcoa Fjardaál in 2006 as Information Technology Manager and a year later became General Process Owner, working toward process development and improvement. In 2008, she stepped into the position of Potroom Manager, and in 2010 she was appointed Production Manager, where she consistently improved key metrics covering production, customer satisfaction, financial performance, safety and employee engagement. She was named Managing Director, Alcoa Fjardaál in 2012 and to her present position in 2014.
Prior to joining Alcoa, Janne had 11 years of management experience, including 5 years as department manager of embedded software development at Siemens Mobile Phone.
In 2012, Janne was named the Stevie Award winner for Female Executive of the Year in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for her achievements in helping to build, strengthen and expand the Fjardaál smelter through creating a culture of safety, leading business transformation initiatives, and achieving high employee engagement. The Stevie Award for Women in Business recognizes women executives and entrepreneurs for their achievements and contributions in the companies they run.
Janne received her Candidata Scientia degree in mathematics and computer science from the University in Aalborg, Denmark.
She and her husband, Magnús, have two children.
A global leader in lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing, Alcoa innovates multi-material solutions that advance our world. Our technologies enhance transportation, from automotive and commercial transport to air and space travel, and improve industrial and consumer electronics products. We enable smart buildings, sustainable food and beverage packaging, high-performance defense vehicles across air, land and sea, deeper oil and gas drilling and more efficient power generation. We pioneered the aluminum industry over 125 years ago, and today, our 60,000 people in 30 countries deliver value-add products made of titanium, nickel and aluminum, and produce best-in-class bauxite, alumina and primary aluminum products. For more information, visit www.alcoa.com, follow @Alcoa on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/Alcoa and follow us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/Alcoa.
As Alcoa’s Chief Information Officer, I lead a team whose role is to ensure that the technology “engine” behind the company is constantly up to date and keeps running. This includes the applications, network, the servers, and the wireless capability. It’s my job to support every corner of the organization, from the corporate offices to more than 200 locations across the globe. Technology truly is the backbone of business and we constantly seek new opportunities to facilitate Alcoa’s growth and transformation thought the usage of technology.
One of my team’s priorities is to ensure cyber security, and we leverage all that technology has to offer. At Alcoa, our senior leadership supports our efforts in Cyber Security and supports us by providing the resources that we need to access new technologies in the safest way possible. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to train our users and leadership in understanding potential risks. Cyber security goals are as important as a corporation’s Mission and Alcoa’s Environment Health & Safety goals – it is really all about protecting the employees as well as the company as a whole; everyone needs to play a role to ensure safety and security of information and data. We help our partners take their work to a new level, showing them what they can automate, what data can be extracted and suggest tools that can interpret data so employees have a better understanding of processes and can improve on them.
There certainly is a difference between start-up companies and corporations in the technology space, and I believe each has a lot to learn from the other. From the start-ups, corporations can learn about agility – being quick, brave and decisive. While a percentage of the quick decisions will be wrong, many will result in valuable lessons that contribute to success. Sometimes there is a tendency for big organizations to do everything immaculately and not showcase anything until it’s perfect. As a result, sometimes corporations do not move the technology needle for years and years. In Silicon Valley, there is a support system for testing new ideas and growing, learning from one project and continually building on those lessons. Taking all of this into account, over the years Alcoa has become more agile and adaptable to new ideas and processes. Having worked at the plant level before, I know that in many cases you cannot wait three months for a solution. It has to be in the next hour. Sometimes you have to be pragmatic – not perfect – and that speed and pragmatic decision-making is something corporations can learn to do better.
On the flip side, corporations solve problems thoroughly, developing a solution that is done right to its root. We take the time to understand what the problem is and then develop a program to solve it, and we do it in a way that prevents the issue from surfacing again. Like most things, it is all about balance. It is vital we are capable of taking the best from both types of organizations.
If you are following technology news, then you also know that stories about advancements in additive manufacturing are all over headlines. Additive manufacturing and its possibilities have refreshed the STEM world and of course, like any other emerging technology, we are following research about it very closely. It is growing at a rapid speed, with the technology improving by leaps and bounds daily. We need to understand the implications and opportunities of this technology so we can find ways to match its capabilities within our organization and our industry. While we have some ideas today on how we can use it, we also know that in four to five months, those technologies will be even better. We are tracking all possibilities and making sure we are at the forefront.
I believe it is critical for those with technology roles to really understand the businesses they lead and not just be comfortable as technology experts. We really need to be the bridge between emerging technologies and the opportunities and needs of our business. You cannot suggest ways that technology can add value to business areas without fully comprehending what the business is about. For those seeking to work in STEM, my counsel would be to build up skills in various functional areas – communication, finance – at the same time you are building technical skills. In the real world, technological solutions do not get made independently. You cannot sit alone in the corner and work on solving issues. Working and cooperating with others is extremely important.