Helping you through the morass of language & hype surrounding Data Science, Analytics & Customer Insight. Each episode is an interview with a leader who is really delivering value from data.
(Our music is "Being Happy" from Purple Planet Music)
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.
For episode 37, I am in conversation with Aaron Peck who is the North American President & MD of the global Market Research consultancy MetrixLab. While the majority of people I've interviewed on this podcast are leaders in data, analytics or data science, this time we ring the changes. I am delighted to focus for a change on the world of Market Research and Customer Insight, including the sales side of that world.
During our chat, Aaron and I explore his career journey and the continued need for Market Research in today's data obsessed world. We consider how an in-house research team can best work with their agency partners. Plus, Aaron has recently been promoted to President so we also explore his experience of that key leadership transition.
As normal, we finish by hearing how Aaron is still developing as a leader, plus his tips for those who are starting out. We close with what Aaron has recently changed his mind about. I hope you find our chat insightful.
In episode 36 we hear from Simon Kaffel. He is Director of Data & Analytics for Sovereign Housing Association. Simon's previously held data leadership roles at Arcadia, Sky, NatWest, O2 & Zurich Global Life Assurance. He's also won numerous awards along the way and learnt a thing or two about what enables or prevents successful data transformations.
During our conversation we explore Simon's career journey, including digging into the reason for his numerous successes at Sky. We consider his experience of what leaders need to do to succeed with data transformation. We also get honest about when & why it doesn't always work. This includes the need to get real about the roles really needed in data today. Lots to chew on for those tasked with leading data transformation in their own organisation. We close off with advice for analysts and other leaders. Thanks Simon.
For episode 35, my guest is Richard Pugh who is Chief Data Scientist & co-founder of the data science agency Mango Solutions. Richard has decades of experience in helping businesses make better decisions through data & is also a passionate member of the R & Data Science communities in the UK.
In our conversation we explore Rich's career story & the reality of what Data Science offers over and above traditional Statistics & advanced Analytics. We also chat about what it takes for organisations to be ready to adopt Data Science, how Mango's 'Radar' helps them hire & the continued benefits of R as a language even as others grow in popularity. Finally he shares both his own development focus & tips for those starting off in the Data Science careers. A must listen for those wanting to learn from a man who has proven the value he can add to business through applying Data Science.
In episode 34, Howard Barber (Director of Data, Analytics & Insight for Golden Charter) takes up the challenge laid down by Firas Khnaisser in episode 25 (to appear on our show). Howard shares his experience of working across client & agency-side analytics roles. We also hear more about his commitment to people development & the skills he is developing in his team.
Like James Dunlop in episode 32, Howard shares why he has found Financial Services a great sector for applying data & analytics to marketing. We close our conversation by hearing Howard's personal development focus, tips for those earlier in their career & what he has changed his mind on. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we did.
For episode 33 we get into the kitchen, in this case the Data Kitchen, with Head Chef & Founder Chris Bergh. During our conversation we explore Chris' career & passion for DataOps (so this episode is a great companion to episode 1). We talk about the leadership skills needed to lead DataOps functions & lessons to be gleaned from Manufacturing.
Chris has published a couple of very accessible books on DataOps, so we chat about those & compare them to 'Practical DataOps' which I reviewed with Harvinder in episode 1. We also explore how DataOps teams can measure their success & the skills that analysts should develop in order to succeed in a career with DataOps. I hope you find that a tasty sounding recipe (just like Rob provided in episode 29) & tuck in for a listen. Enjoy & let me know what helps you.
In episode 32, I'm joined by James Dunlop. James is the Head of Decisioning and Digital for the Wealth division in NatWest Group. Before joining Natwest, James has worked for financial services brands including AXA and Lloyds in various data and analytics roles. Plus, like two of my previous guests (Andy Sutton & Harry Wilkes) James previously worked as part of my leadership team at Lloyds Banking Group.
As well as exploring James' career history & why working in Financial Services is far from dull, we explore his focus on decisioning . James shares why this branch of data work appeals & the biggest challenges he sees today for decisioning (or database marketing) leaders. Along the way there are also tips for leadership development & for those newer in their careers.
So, sit back and enjoy this data leader wisdom from the West Country (with some very well behaved guinea pigs in the background). It might just persuade you to either work for a Bank or focus your career on decisoning.
For episode 31, I'm in conversation with Steve White who is the Fundraising, Data Strategy & Insight Manager for the leading UK cancer charity Marie Curie. During our time together we explore Steve's career from British Airways to agency side roles (including founding an agency) and then deciding to move into the charity sector.
We also explore why making a difference matters more to Steve than job titles & how to have a successful leadership career as a hands-on introverted leader who drives change through influencing. I hope it helps many others seeking such an approach.
At this milestone of episode 30, I have the pleasure of talking with Harry Powell, Director of Data & Analytics for Jaguar Land Rover. As well as hearing Harry's career journey, we explore a wide range of topics from graph databases to better thinking & team productivity to generating profit. Harry's wealth of hands-on experience shines through as we explore both technical challenges & the greater need for what Harry calls "imaginative thinking".
Lots of useful advice for data leaders & analysts. Lessons learnt about the need to prioritise skills in problem scoping (simplification & achieving clarity) as well why a more commercial focus may help your team. Harry ends with the benefits of putting yourself under pressure & takes the opportunity to be controversial a few times before then. A great opportunity to pick Harry's considerable brain, which I hope you find helpful. Apologies for the poor sound quality at times, but the practical wisdom Harry shares makes it worth persisting. Enjoy!
For our 29th episode, our thoughts turn to food, as I interview Rob Barham who is Data Director at the recipe & ingredients online retailer Gousto. Rob's role covers Data Science, Analytics & Data Engineering, so we discuss topics relevant to leading all 3.
After hearing Rob's career history, we learn more about what has worked for him at Gusto. We explore data products & analytics support for rapidly scaling factories, as well as optimising recipes for production & CX. We talk about the importance of domain knowledge, influencing, communication & career paths for your team members. We even touch on the benefits of growing the external profile of your data team.
Rob shares a lot of his leadership experience & I hope this episode gives other data leaders the opportunity to reflect on what could work for their teams. Happy Listening & try not to get too hungry!
In episode 28, I interview Graeme McDermott who is CDO for the insurer Tempcover. Graeme's another experienced data & analytics leader to join us for this series of practitioner conversations. With over 15 years experience of leading data & analytics teams, he shares his tips for other leaders & those earlier on in their careers. Along the way we discuss agile working, AI, questioning & the importance of cheating as a leader! Listen to understand why that's not as bad as it sounds.
For episode 27, I am joined by Rob Kellaway who is Head of Data Ops at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM). Rob has held a variety of IT & Data leadership roles within Financial Services. In this conversation we explore some of the lessons learnt during his varied career. We focus on data roles inside and outside IT. We also explore the rise of Data Ops as a function & the long view of the reality behind the hype surrounding Big Data & Data Science. Rob shares plenty of pragmatic advice from his experience as a hands on leader as well as tips for less experienced analysts. Enjoy.
For episode 26, I talk with Ben Salmon co-founder of the marketing agency We are Crank. We chat about his career across marketing & analytics. We focus on an article that Ben has published with the provocative title "Why analytics in Marketing never gets you anywhere". Together exploring the skills, resourcing & culture that can help marketing analytics be more effective. Ben also critiques those businesses who have ignored the need for digital transformation and so are now struggling in lockdowns. Lots to learn from Ben's outspoken advice & lessons learnt from experience - especially for those working in marketing analytics. I hope you enjoy, are informed & entertained.
In episode 25 we travel to Scotland for my conversation with Firas Khnaisser. He is Head of Decisioning for Standard Life Aberdeen & Chair of DMA Scotland. In this interview, we explore his career history (starting in a Dubai DM agency) and how he was challenged to not be afraid of data. From there we confront the limiting belief that you can't effectively lead data teams without a data background. We also explore the reality of 'Decisioning' work & the difference that the DMA still makes as a force for change today. Finally, we explore the benefit of being different & being yourself, with an encouragement to listen to Firas' other passion, his music. My thanks to Firas for being so open.
For episode 24, our attention turns to the practical realities of managing data & delivering Business Intelligence (BI). My guest this time is Kevin Crowley, Head of Business Intelligence at Hodge Bank. Kevin's a very experienced data leader, so we chat about his career history (including how starting in customer service helped). We also explore what BI means at Hodge Bank, how Kevin created his Data Strategy & how to engage business leaders about the need for active data ownership. A great practical & honest conversation about the reality of managing a BI team in business today.
In episode 23, I talk with Elizabeth Hollinger, Director of Insight for Aggreko. A great conversation as Elizabeth is one of the most eloquent leaders I've had the pleasure of interviewing. As with other guests, we explore her career history (across Insurance, Management Consultancy & now working in Manufacturing). We also focus on how Elizabeth developed their Data Vision. She shares lots of proven tips to secure engagement & achieve progress on challenges like data governance, innovation & collaborative working. You can also learn how she is still developing as a leader. Well worth a listen, especially if you have responsibility for data leadership or transforming your organisation to embrace insight-led decision making.
In episode 22, I have a wonderfully scientific conversation with Suresh Pillai who is working in Berlin. He shares about his background in theoretical physics, data science leadership roles (including in eBay) and why complex systems & simulations can help. A great opportunity to delve into a neglected approach compared to machine learning & other scientific methods, but still grounded in what will help today's businesses. I hope Suresh's tips for data scientists and data science leaders help you. Enjoy learning on so many topics in this polymath's delight.
In episode 21 we go international and hear from Andy Sutton in Australia. Andy heads up Data and Personalisation for Endeavour drinks, the largest drinks retailer in Australia & part of the Woolworths group. He is part poacher and part gamekeeper - thinking of more inventive ways to use customer data to personalise their experience with us, whilst also leading on data governance and privacy. He made the conversion to retail and Australia 4 years ago, having started his career working with the (his words not mine) almost legendary Paul Laughlin at Lloyds Banking Group in deepest darkest Newport, South Wales.
In this episode we talk about what prompted Andy's moves to Australia and the Retail sector, plus what he has learnt from both as well as Marketing roles. We also discuss non-Data-Scientists leading Data Science teams, the benefits of Research & Analytics teams coming together, plus other controversial topics. With such an open & honest leader, I'm sure you'll enjoy this conversion and find something to which you can relate.
For the milestone of our twentieth episode, I chat with Scott Logie, MD of REaD Group Insight. Scott has worked in the data industry for over 30 years on both the client and agency side. He has also been Chair of the DMA and now runs the Customer Engagement Committee. So, in this conversation we had the opportunity to take 'the long view' on use of data, regulation, leadership and skills development. What has changed & what's remained true. Lots of insights shared by Scott as we explored many common experiences and what they have to teach both analysts & data leaders today.
In episode 19, I speak to Jason Bartram (while he was at the Ombudsman Services, prior to his new role at eBay). This is another recording from my archives, but a conversation well worth revisiting. In this interview we discuss his current role and career path, including lessons learnt in the hotel trade. He has a great anecdote involving the then Home Secretary and a fight in the kitchen. Jason also explains the importance of developing resilience as a leader and how different roles have helped him develop.
We then talk about some of the interesting work that Jason is currently doing at the Ombudsman Services. This includes an interesting application of speech analytics to identify different personality types. The timely topics of measuring emotion and GDPR also make an appearance. Many thanks to Jason for his candour and for sharing his advice for developing as an analyst and a leader. Listen out for his advice on coping in the ‘panic zone‘, as well as focusing on analysis that can be actioned. Execution is key to making a difference, I agree with Jason on that priority. Hope you enjoy our conversation and it helps inspire you in your role.
In this eighteenth episode, I chat with Alan Crawley, Founder & CEO of Optima Partners. As you hear in our conversation his boutique consultancy focusses on analytics for interaction optimisation, customer strategy & innovation. He also has a background as a marine biologist which we explore as a great starting point for his career in data science. We discuss the advancements in data, data science & AI that are really helping businesses. Plus, the need for commercial awareness & Alan's tips for leaders or those starting their career. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
For our seventeenth episode, we turn our attention to Analytics and how analysts & their leaders can succeed in their careers. On this episode, I am joined by Harry Wilkes, Head of Customer Analytics for RELX.
During our chat we discuss his current role and career path, including the value of commercial focussed Database Marketing or lead generation roles. We review both technical and softer skills that can help leaders effectively manage their teams and analysts develop the skills they need. Out chat also includes lessons learnt from the book that Harry recommended in this blog post.
Harry shares his own experience and what is working for him and his team in their global consulting role supporting a wide range of businesses. A fascinating new perspective on common challenges. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed catching up with Harry.
For our sixteenth episode, we return to interviews with Data Science leaders working in business today. I am joined by Gwilym Morrison who leads Data Science at the UK mutual insurer, Royal London. During our chat we discuss his current role and career path, including his transition from analyst to a people leader. Gwilym usefully shares the 6 skills that he has identified as needed within Data Science teams. These are well worth hearing and reassuring, as they map across to a number of topics we have already covered on Customer Insight Leader blog. He also calls out the Data Science Radar framework from Mango Solutions, who have previously shared their view on achieving Data Science readiness. So, plenty of tips for other leaders and I hope you really enjoy our conversation.
In this fifteenth episode, we turn our attention to Data Visualisation. I'm in conversation with Jon Schwabish, economist, senior fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington DC & data visualisation author/trainer/consultant with his own firm PolicyViz.com. Our wide ranging conversation explore the critical need for data visualisation skills, the generous data viz community and developments in the tools available. We also reflect on lessons for all analysts from Jon's latest book "Elevate the Debate", plus mention the collection of charts Jon shares online. I really enjoyed this conversation and encourage you to check out a number of the resources we mention via different sections of policyviz.com (including his recommended podcast).
In this fourteenth episode, we go deeper into leadership & psychology. I interview Ty Francis, founder of Meus, Gestalt leadership coach, consultant and filmmaker. Together we explore the need for the work he does with leadership teams seeking development, transformation, culture change and communication. This blossoms into a conversation about human beings, real transformation, Gestalt principles and creativity. We consider, more deeply, how leaders (including technical leaders) can more fully express themselves and serve the wider organisation. This includes the role of filmmaking & poetry. A lot to enjoy in this longer episode, so settle down to savour this one.
In this thirteenth episode, lucky for you, I interview Kanika Chaganty who is CDO for Vitality UK (a leading health insurer). Her background is both in Business Intelligence (with a technical understanding of operationalising data) and in strategy/innovation (with a Post Grad diploma from Oxford University). We talk about her career journey, including the importance of hybrid (business + technical) skills. We also explore the role of the CDO (perhaps CDO 2.0) as well as how Kanika has benefitted from working in different countries during her career. She shares useful tips for both experienced managers and those starting out in their data careers. I hope you find our very enjoyable conversation useful.
In this twelfth episode, I interview Tom Lloyd who is the Managing Director of MetaMetrics. As you hear in our conversation, his agency focusses on applying Econometrics and helping clients measure what drives their sales. With so much experience of applying marketing analytics & modelling for clients, Tom has plenty of practical advice to share with us. During our conversation, we covered a number of topics that I know readers of our blog have raised. From econometrics to customer insight, analytics to marketing & business questions. His experience “in the trenches” with clients shines through when we discuss topics like entrenched hypotheses & managing analysts differently. Hope you enjoy this one.
In this eleventh episode, I interview Orlando Machado who as well as having an academic background (PhD in Applied Statistics), also had an illustrious commercial CV spanning roles at WPP, dunnhumby, Money Supermarket & now Aviva. We talk about Data Science & where it adds value, as well as Orlando's tips on where to focus and the skills that are needed. Along the way in this conversation we touch on the need for commercial understanding, alignment to strategic priorities & not innovating in isolation from your main business. Lots to learn from this eloquent leader.
In our tenth episode, I share another interview from the archives. This one is with Sameer Rahman (who at the time was Director of Data Science at EDIT agency & Chairman of CIM Wales). He is now Director of Insight at the Royal Mint. In this interview, he shares his agency-side & especially Marketing take on Data Science & the skills analysts need. Lots of sensible advice on skills and the questions that analysts should ask themselves. Plus lessons from Sameer's career journey & how his book "Applied Predictive Modelling for Direct Marketing in R (or SAS)" can help you. Well worth a listen.
In this ninth episode, we return to our focus on Data Science & Analytics leaders. I interview Enda Ridge who is both an experienced Data Science leader (Sainsburys, KPMG, EY) and also the author of "Guerrilla Analytics". Following a rave review for that book on Customer Insight Leader blog, in this conversation we discuss Enda's career, tips for others & some of the themes from his book. Common themes proved to be the need for a scientific approach (including rigour & reproducible results) as well as the focus needed on understanding your problem, data extract/receipt/load & communication. A really enjoyable chat which I hope is useful for analysts at all stages of their career.
In this eighth episode, we again respond to the challenge of needing to work from home productively. This episode is an interview with a globally recognised CX expert, who has been working from home for over 20 years. Annette Franz is CEO & founder of CX Journey, as well as being chairwoman of the CXPA, author of "Customer Understanding" and regularly recognised CX consultant & coach. In this conversation we discuss her experience of learning to work effectively from home, including habits, apps & environment. Lots of honest pragmatic advice to help many leaders who are making this transition in a less than ideal environment. We hope it helps you.
This seventh episode is another from the archives (recorded for our blog back in 2018 and still worth sharing). Paul Laughlin interviews Norma Dove-Edwin who is still the Chief Data & Information Office (CDIO) for Places for People Group Ltd. In this conversation we discuss Norma's career journey, GDPR, data protection & ownership more broadly, as well as project management & agile working. That and much more for you to enjoy in this data focussed conversation.
In this sixth episode, we again respond to the challenge many leaders are facing, of needing to work from home for an indefinite period. This episode responds to that challenge by interviewing a leadership coach who has been working from home for many years. Kevin Watson, founder of My Own Coach shares his tips for working from home effectively & finding your own rhythm. He shares how he enjoys working more flexibly and some tips (and apps) that have helped him become more focussed & productive working this way. I hope it helps you.
This fifth episode is another from the archives (recorded for blog back in 2018 and still worth sharing). Paul Laughlin interviews Elsbeth Kottelenberg, at the time she was Senior Customer Insight Manager for UBM (she is now Head of Visitor Experience for Informalities Markets). An opportunity to hear a Customer Insight/Market Research perspective on the challenges of this role, including the insights needed by B2B and B2B2B businesses. I hope you find it helpful.
In this fourth episode, we respond to the challenge many leaders are facing, of needing to work from home for an indefinite period. This episode responds to that challenge by interviewing a leader who has been working from home for 19 years. William Buist, founder of WilliamBuist.com shares his tips for working from home effectively & how to overcome your initial difficulties. William shares how his home office evolved and the lessons he learned along the way, to more productively work from home. I hope it helps you.
This third episode is another from the archives (recorded for blog back in 2018 and still worth sharing). Paul Laughlin interviews Martin Squires, at the time he was Director of Data, Insight & Analytics for HomeServe. In this conversation we discuss Martin's career journey, selling double glazing, chickens, football, the continued need for analysts & his tips for those starting out in their data careers. That and much more for you to enjoy in this open conversation.
This second episode is one from the archives (recorded for blog back in 2018 and still worth sharing). Paul Laughlin interviews Ryan den Rooijen, at the time he was Global Director of Data Services for Dyson. In this conversation we discuss Ryan's career journey, the need for people skills & visualisation, recommended leadership books & his tips for those starting out in their data careers. That and much more for you to enjoy in this open conversation.
In this first episode, Paul Laughlin interviews Harvinder Atwal, CDO of MoneySupermarket Group. In this conversation we discuss Harvinder's career journey, his latest book "Practical DataOps", the need for such teams, why data products are more useful than insights & his tips for those starting out in their data careers. That and much more for you to enjoy in this open conversation.