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For episode 57, I'm in conversation with Charlie Ballard who is the Marketing Science Enablement Lead at Meta. He has been a lifelong technology and data evangelist and shares with us on the basis of his experience working in and with firms including General Motors, American Express, BT, Tripadvisor & now Meta. Our conversation is wide ranging and includes plenty of tips from Charlie's experience. He is one of my guests whose background was originally within market research and who has developed into data & analytics & marketing leadership roles. As well as exploring Charlie's career story we discuss a number of topics that will be relevant to all such leaders. Charlie shares advice on speaking both business & technical languages, silent starts to meetings, going bigger on your projects & considering new data sources. Well worth a listen and prioritising which ideas could work for you in your role. I hope you enjoy this chat as much as I did.
In episode 56, I'm in conversation with Aparna Bharadwaj, an MD & Partner at BCG who is also their Global Leader of the Centre for Customer Insight. During her interview, you will have the opportunity to hear why she is passionate about customer insight & the difference it can make in businesses. Prior to her very successful career in BCG, Aparna learnt her marketing trade at Coca Cola & has an MBA from Harvard Uni. So, she has a great commercial grounding for her perspective on customer insight & what businesses really need. Together we explore the power of focussing on empathy, simplification & impact. Aparna brings to life how this helps researchers & analysts deliver insights that actually drive sustainable changes. We also follow up on Aparna's highly praised talk for International Women's Day by exploring the benefits of diversity & more global awareness for both customer insight leaders and analysts. Aparna is my second guest from Singapore (following Avis Easteal in episode 43). During our conversation, she really brings to life how greater cultural awareness & empathy for people can improve the quality of the insights produced. Enjoy!
For episode 55, I am joined by Rob McLaughlin the founder of the Loop Horizon agency. Rob is an experienced digital marketing professional and a proven leader in the field of data & analytics, with a track record of bringing customer data into the complex marketing and technology landscape.  Prior to founding Loop Horizon, Rob has led data & decisioning teams at Sky, Digitas, Barclays & Canon. So, he has plenty of real world experience to share with us in both leading data teams and applying data to deliver improved marketing or customer experience. Some of which we are going to try and mine during this conversation. We start by exploring Rob's career story & the lessons he has learnt about where he was best to specialise. We discuss the benefits of working within the business & being close to the action with regards to your ability to 'activate' data. During our chat we also touch on the power of creating your own data & when you might consider the move to consulting or even setting up you own agency. Plenty of nuggets of wisdom and some controversial opinions along the way - I hope you enjoy it & can't wait to hear your thoughts. Thanks again to Rob for his time.
For episode 54 my guest is Peter Jones, who is Head of Data for Internal Audit at the UK insurer Legal & General. During our conversation, we explore many lessons that Peter has learnt during his career. These include how he became a data leader without even a Maths 'A' level, as well as the lessons learnt from integrating identity systems, switching sectors & delivering a data warehouse. But what is most unique about this episode is our discussion about the growing use of data & analytics within Internal Audit functions. You may not of considered that department as a career opportunity for data or analytics. So, listen to Peter describe why it's "hot" as an opportunity with fresh challenges for those who possess the data & critical thinking skills needed. Well worth considering as a new opportunity area for analysts.
For episode 53 my guest is Dan Kellett, CDO at Capital One in the UK. Dan has great experience to share with us, with many years of hands-on experience in leading & developing data & analytics teams. Unlike my well travelled guests, Dan has spent the vast majority of his career with one employer, Capital One. He shares why & the benefits that he's seen from such a choice. He also shares the value of focussing on practical commercial work rather than academic qualifications (so a contrarian view to that of my guests with PhDs). More importantly, Dan shares practical tips from his experience of bringing together diverse technical teams and developing commercial awareness as well as technical skills. We debate the added value of Data Science beyond the Statistical approaches in Analytics that pre-date that label. Dan is a humble and eloquent leader with much real-world proven experience to share. He also has a passion for developing his team, so I recommend that other data leaders tune in to hear his perspective.
For episode 52 I chat with Adam Sroka. He is Head of Machine Learning Engineering at Origami Energy, an energy trading software start-up. During our conversation we explore the benefit of starting your data career in the culture of a start-up. Adam shares what motivates him as a gamer & self-confessed nerd, including the importance of the social impact that Origami is making.  Along the way we explore the branches of Data Science and the diversity of communities, meet-ups & mentors that can help you develop the skills you need. Adam brings to life the benefits of raising your profile to 'show your work' (recommending the book you can see via that link). Finally we also explore the benefit of having a commercial solution to meeting social needs. Worth hearing his balanced assessment of the importance of domain knowledge as well as technical skills, plus the benefit of adding commercial expertise to your team. Those transitioning to a management role from a technical doer will also benefit from a number of tips that Adam shares during our chat.  I hope you enjoy yet another different voice as together we hear from the wide diversity of successful data leaders in the world today.
In episode 51, I chat with Stuart Hayes who is Head of Data & Analytics for OSN in Dubai (the Sky TV equivalent for that region). He has helped many businesses over his decades of work as a consultant and a data leader, from the FT to Sky Betting and many more. During our conversation we reflect on Stuart's career and wanderlust. He shares how so much travel has helped him develop as a data leader. he also shares his take on Data Science, the benefits of starting your career at a start-up & why you still need a SCV. Like me, Stuart has also led a Market Research team as well as data & analytics teams, so we explore that transition too. Plenty of practical tips and advice from a gent with the benefit of decades of hands-on data leadership roles, so well worth a listen to see what ideas Stuart may spark in your own thinking. Don't miss the Spice Girls analogy for a real groan/laugh out loud moment.
For the milestone of episode 50, we return to the world of Data Visualisation. This time my guest is Neil Richards. Neil is a current 3 time Tableau Zen Master & Public Ambassador who works as a Business Intelligence Lead at JLL in the UK. He is probably best known as being very active in the UK’s data visualisation community. He’s a former Knowledge Director of the Data Visualization Society and current Editorial Director at Viz for Social Good. Neil also blogs at where he regularly discusses & demonstrates his personal (and often unorthodox) data visualisation projects. In our conversation we explore his data career & last 6-7 years learning data visualisation. We have opportunity to explore the benefits of data viz being a passion outside your working hours. Plus, how Neil has benefited from communities, inspiration and feedback. Plenty of tips to help those who are also working on improving their data visualisation skills this year.
Episode 49 is back in the studio as I talk with Ben Dias who is Director of Data Science and Analytics at easyJet. Ben has previously worked at Royal Mail, Tesco and Unilever, so in total he has over 15 years’ industry experience. Having started his career as a hands-on Data Scientist, Ben’s more recently focussed on building and leading teams, applying the Lean Start-Up approach to Data Science and Analytics within large organizations.  During our conversation we explore Ben's career as well as his current focus on delivery of easyJet's data strategy. Ben is also experienced in setting up and managing research collaborations between universities (esp. UCL) and business partners. So, we explore how his academic focus has informed his approach & how pioneering through learning by doing (before there were Data Science degrees) aided his development. This also includes what Data Science leaders can learn from a stint in Data Engineering. We conclude a thoroughly enjoyable chat by considering Ben's lessons for Data Science teams from "The Lean StartUp" book, as well as his tips for those earlier in their careers. There are plenty of opportunities in this episode to learn from Ben's warm & open style, as well his many years of hands-on experience. 
This is our third & last episode that was recorded live at Big Data London. Apologies for the poorer audio quality, but it is well worth persisting as my guest for episode 48 is the irrepressible Robert Maranca, Data Excellence VP for Schneider Electric. During our conversation we explore Roberto's career as a data leader, including roles across GE, Lloyds Bank & Schneider Electric. He shares lessons he has learnt through good times & bad. These include the challenges of GDPR, data strategy, data literacy, metadata & looking after your own mental health as a data leader. Plus, the importance of developing business empathy as a skill. There is much to be learnt here from Roberto's real world experience, for both new analysts & experienced leaders. I hope you enjoy this chat as much as I enjoyed my time on stage with him. Back to the studio from our next episode.
Episode 47 is our second podcast recorded live in front of an audience at Big Data London 2021. My guest for this episode is Souvik Saha. He heads up the Consumer Data & Analytics teams of Citibank in the UK. He's also a member of their UK consumer leadership and data leadership teams. Starting as a data analyst 15 years ago, Souvik has been on an exciting journey living in 5 countries and managing various data verticals over the years. Even before commencing his journey as a data professional, he was passionate about data & says he considers himself extremely lucky to be working in his area of passion. He stepped away for 3 years from core data verticals and headed Sales Performance Management to experience the world outside data. There he managed to combine analytics and execution to drive a 30% increase in sales productivity. He’s now focused on building a team which can use the latest data techniques to drive business value along with effective data governance. In this conversation we explore both Souvik's career story and what he has learnt along the way. We explore how he benefited from moving into a business leadership role & working in other countries including Russia. Souvik also shares how he has got offshoring of analytics working effectively. Then we finish with his tips for others for their analytics & leadership development.
A first for episode 46, our first-ever Customer Insight Leader podcast Live! This interview with Tom Spencer was recorded live in front of a studio audience at the Big Data London 2021 event at Olympia, London. Tom is the Head of Customer Data Science at Aviva. In our conversation, we hear his career story, including fourteen years’ front-line experience at Dunnhumby (yes another podcast guest who has been through that training). Tom’s career highlights include establishing Dunnhumby Korea as analytics lead, heading up the Asia region’s analyst teams, and leading the South Korea business as Country Head. We also explore the critical topic of culture & how to create a great place to work. Given Tom’s team at Aviva have won the ‘Best Place to Work in Data‘ at the DataIQ Awards in 2019 & 2020 he is well qualified to advise us on a winning formula. There is so much to enjoy in our conversation & I hope you find our first foray into taking the podcast on the road delivers some really useful insights.
In episode 45, my latest guest is Peter Sueref. Peter has worked with data his whole career since graduating in Computer Science at Cardiff University. As the Data Science Director at Centrica he worked on some of the biggest problems in energy today.  While at Centrica he also launched their first Blockchain project, set up the first group-wide Data Science Team, built their Digital Accelerator Hub and set up the first Knowledge Transfer Partnership around data innovation. This year, he left Centrica to set up a Data Science startup, Empirisys, where he is the CTO and co-founder.  In our conversation we explore Pete's career story, how he leapfrogged from Data to Data Science and the power of honesty & transparency as a data leader. We even hear how Pete put this into practice with Bring Your Own Data days at Centrica. I hope you hear some tips to inspire your data leadership development.
For episode 44, I am in conversation with Gillian Docherty OBE. She is CEO of the The Data Lab Scotland and in this conversation we explore both the work of The Data Lab and other lessons Gillian has learnt during her career. Her background includes over 20 years working within IBM, but our conversation begins with a family row on the eve of her Maths O-levels. From there we track the course of Gillian's career journey towards data leadership and explore what her experience might teach other leaders and aspiring leaders. We consider the importance of both an IT background and sales skills for data leaders. We also consider why the Data Lab Scotland model has been so successful and what that could mean for other parts of the UK or other countries.  Finally, Gillian leaves us with some advice for analysts or data scientists on the skills they should develop, as well as what she has changed her mind on in recent years. Listen out for the Decision Diamond she has developed at the Data Lab, those 5 questions might help you prioritise too.
For episode 43, we hear from an experienced data & business leader in Asia. Avis Easteal is currently Head of Consumer at Luxasia (an omni-partner of many globally recognised luxury lifestyle & personal care brands). She joins me from Singapore. Avis explains her work as connecting people, data, marketing and customer experience, to translate business to IT and vice-versa in order to digitally transform companies.  During our conversation we explore her career history and what she has learnt along the way. We dig into the need to ask questions to get to the real business need and the challenge of moving from agency-side to client-side leadership roles. Avis also reflects on whether the role changes she has made along the way were brave or not. We usefully explore why data leaders can make very capable business leaders & the benefits of considering a move into CX, sales or marketing roles. We also explore Avis' passion for digital marketing and the difference that analytics-led personalisation can make. Then to close, Avis shares her answers to two of my perennial questions (advice for less experienced analysts & what she has changed her mind on). There is plenty to learn in this episode from a woman who has proven her ability to improve businesses through data-led thinking.
For episode 42 we again venture to the USA and talk with Randy Krum the creator of the famous CoolInfographics website. Randy is a data visualisation designer with his own design agency (InfoNewt), teaches a University course and is a published author. His book is “Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualisation and Design” and he's also active in organising Data Viz Meet-up groups. So, we had plenty to chat about. In this conversation we explore Randy's career story, including the role for blogs to visually share others' content & showcase your work. We also discuss the continued role for infographics, as well as solely effective data visualisations. Randy shares what has helped him through his career & we consider when firms might choose to bring in an external design agency. Well worth a listen, especially for those interested in the role of visual communication beyond just charts.
In episode 41, I have a great conversation with Sarah Barr Miller who is Head of Data & Automation for British Airways. We chat over her career history & what she too learnt from working at dunnhumby. During that we explore the continued relevance of single customer views & the benefits of a clear demarcation between data & analytics teams. Sarah shares what she learnt from working internationally & the challenges she overcame as a woman in a male-dominated data world. Lots to consider and a great opportunity to reflect on the skills both leaders and more junior analysts need to succeed today. What could you learn?
For episode 40, I chat with James Blagg who is the Head of Data for Principality Building Society. Based in South Wales, like your host, James shares with me his journey into a data leadership role and some lessons he's learnt along the way. Our conversation explores the importance of breaking down silos to help connect business & technical teams. We reflect on what James has learnt from his roles in risk & change leadership. He also shares how he has persuaded risk adverse leadership teams to invest in their data capabilities. Plus, James openly shares his own leadership challenges. Another opportunity to hear the reality, behind the spin, of data leadership in today's businesses.
For episode 39 we cross the pond again to talk with Graham MacDonald, who is the Chief Data Officer for the Urban Institute (a US non profit dedicated to elevating the debate on social & economic policy). During our conversation we explore how Graham has successfully influenced his organisation to develop both a data visualisation and a data science capability. I quiz Graham on how he achieved those decisions and other lessons from his career story. We explore hiring decisions, the importance of developing domain knowledge and caring about your organisation's purpose. Graham also brings a fresh perspective to both how he is developing as a leader and tips for those earlier in their career. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed Graham's warm friendly company. Data with a purpose brought to life.
In episode 38 I'm in conversation with Alison Williams, Global Head of Data at dunnhumby. This is a wonderfully intimate and yet widely relevant chat about many of the issues faced by leaders in the data industry, especially women. We explore Alison's career story and why she has chosen to build most of her career at one employer. We discuss hiring decisions & the benefits of looking wider than data graduates. Alison also shares what she learnt from her time in Data Engineering and the benefits of gaining broad experience as a foundation. We also explore the use of account manager/translator roles. Alison shares her passions for both charitable work and achieving diversity, plus options to consider. We even learn how she achieved promotion when returning from maternity leave, with valuable lessons to consider. Finally we discuss the benefits & lessons to be learnt when working internationally and Alison's tips for those earlier in their careers. Many thanks to Alison for sharing so generously, her real life experience and practical wisdom is well worth hearing.
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