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Andrew Lynn, head of data, Unicef UK

Andrew Lynn, head of data, Unicef UK

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

Data and analytics underpin each of our strategic goals - we can only continue to build and grow through the use of data and the provision of insight through robust analysis. Perhaps the area where data and analytics is most important is our goal to build an organisation for the digital age. For us, this doesn’t mean only the ability to engage with our supporters effectively through digital channels but also having the tools, skills and information to work more effectively.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

When lockdown started, we prioritised our activities to align directly with income and influence generating initiatives, setting aside some projects we had planned with longer-term benefits. As the year progressed, we found that the demand for accurate, timely information to help decision-making and the organisation’s response to the crisis catalysed our plans for improvements in data and information provision. This resulted in us adjusting our delivery model so that we can focus on short-term goals as well as the longer term benefits, we intend to realise through investing in data and analytics.

 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

We’ve generated momentum as a result of the increased demand for good data and information. We want to build on that, integrating data better and accelerating our use of technologies so that data is more cohesive and readily available for use throughout the organisation. We’ll be developing our compliance work to include the Age Appropriate Design Code. It is rooted in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forms the basis for Unicef’s work.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

All the data we use is for good!

 

What has been your path to power?

 

I’ve spent 20 years working with data in the charity sector. During that time, I have worked and continue to work with talented, capable colleagues. I’ve been fortunate in being able to learn from them.

 

I cut my teeth at Cancer Research UK and became interested in data rather than the systems that housed it, moving into data governance. While there, I’d worked on a big CRM change project and I joined Unicef UK as they were considering a similar project. I was able to bring my knowledge and experience to firstly create a case for change and then deliver on key project outcomes.

 

I now head up a team with responsibility for Unicef UK’s data, ensuring we have the data, systems and processes we need to fundraise and increase our influence effectively, managing data as a strategic asset.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

The work we’ve completed over the past year. It’s been immensely challenging, managing change at scale that’s affected us each individually and across our organisation. Despite this, we have delivered on projects to improve our compliance and implement systems and infrastructure to allow us to continue to develop our data and analytics practice. There’s an old proverb, “storms make oaks take deeper root,” that has resonated throughout the past year.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

Data literacy. I’d like everyone at Unicef UK to continue to develop their understanding of data and how to use it effectively.

 

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?

 

We recognise that our work is dependent on good data and analytics, and this is in line with other larger charities, who, like us, are doing interesting work and investing so they can realise the value of data better. Our data and analytics teams work together with colleagues in the broader business to ensure we are delivering new initiatives and that good insight is readily available. We work to the same organisational objectives, which are cross-dependent and foster a culture of collaboration.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

I think there are two sides to this, there is the more formal side which includes policies and working practice, but then there is the less formal aspect such as the types of conversation an organisation is having. Sometimes those conversations are informed by a presenting issue, but they can have a narrow focus. To help with broader thinking, we have an informal community of practice around data where practitioners meet with no fixed agenda to share ideas and thoughts and discuss areas for improvement. These discussions inform further conversations so that slowly the organisation is changing its narrative.

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