Best place to work in data
Royal Mail Advanced Analytics
Who are they?
Business intelligence and analytics used to be distributed around functions within Royal Mail Group. In 2016, the decision was made to create a new group BI function which would add-on data science and advanced analytics capabilities. Under the leadership of Wade Munsie, head of advanced analytics and BI development, the function has built a new operating model and grown from scratch to nearly 60 staff in 2018.
What do they do?
Building an effective and motivated team has been critical to the growth of the advanced analytics function, as has ensuring that talent acquisition and retention operate in a new and different way. This has seen a new approach to recruitment adopted which looks for storytellers, mathematicians, coders, analysts and people capable of critical and creative thinking, rather than those with a technology bias.
This type of profile has been dubbed “unicorns” because of the challenge which finding them represents. To tackle this, new strategies have been adopted, such as recruiting senior roles via recommendations or direct LinkedIn campaigns, with existing members of the team actively encouraged to blog and share best practice.
Junior roles are recruited via apprenticeships, graduates, MScs and post-doctoral candidates. There is also a strong focus on personal development through continuous training, which sees 20% of colleagues’ time spent on self-development and research. This has delivered two direct benefits: only 15% of new recruits have been acquired via external recruiters, delivering significant cost savings to the business, while just three staff have been lost to other UK companies, a much lower attrition rate than is usual.
Free-thinking is encouraged with visibility of the pipeline of initiatives and close relationships with lines of business to ensure the impact of what is delivered gets seen. The team has also worked with charity partners on their data problems. Career progression and promoting from within are key strategies.
Since its creation, an initial team of 30 has received approval to double in size in 2018. Diversity is also a key element of the talent management strategy with women representing 35% of staff, while over 15 countries are represented.
Royal Mail Advanced Analytics has built a big data platform for itself, having previously had no technology, It has delivered the first data component of a £50 million corporate programme using the agile methodology, built a project without using consuiltants, delivered onto Royal Mail Group’s own big data platform allowing it to manage large volumes of data which were used to train algorithms without performance problems, and run a 48-hour hackathon to deliver a usable product with tangible value.
What did the judges say?
The judges were impressed by the scale of the function’s growth - almost a start-up from within a very traditional business. The focus on talent acquisition and retention was clear and they applauded the willingness to think differently and adopt new strategies.
To see the entire list of winners and finalists, click here.