How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Avon is accelerating its business transformation through its “Open up and grow” strategy. This year, our business has taken action to optimise the commercial model, digitally enable representatives, drive product innovation and refresh the brand.
With each step change colleagues engage data and analytics to evaluate the best approach, track success measures and creatively identify opportunities to further improve our representative’s experience, while producing sustainable business growth. Cross functional teams are mobilised to rapidly support the creation of capabilities which will help generate more positive outcomes.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what un-planned ones did you have to introduce?
Undoubtedly 2020 was a year when everyone had to adapt and, for many, including myself, this provided an opportunity to refocus priorities.
My journey with Avon UK began on day one of lockdown, which meant I was limited to building relationships remotely and immersing myself in an environment that was rapidly adjusting to a new way of working. Planned activities remained on track throughout the year, however, my methods to achieve them were adjusted, with a much higher reliance on technology. Virtual communication channels were key to developing new relationships, whilst implementing targeted forums to identify and drive improvements.
Avon was adapting at pace with data and analytics providing an essential foundation to decisions. This helped fast-track my understanding of the business and to identify opportunities to strengthen our strategic framework. Our support to business challenges helped raise the profile of analytics, and to ensure backing for our longer term objectives.
We were able to enhance our team’s capability through harnessing online tools, strengthening our ability to exploit technology and rapidly deploy solutions to key business questions. The challenges we faced were matched with innovation, by working as a team to deliver on our promises.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
This year will continue to present a volatile market, with consumer buying preferences fluctuating in real-time. Data and analytics will support in assessing patterns and factors impacting behaviours from the external environment. Analytics will support decision making in a wide range of fields, including marketing effectiveness, sales growth, supply chain efficiency and service for our representatives.
Combined with our tailored analysis, we will continue to grow a data community with a complementary self-serve capability, empowering them to answer their own questions. We have a great opportunity to evolve a culture which further recognises the value of data in 2021.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Avon’s strategy is supportive of many good causes, operating ethically and delivering on their sustainability agenda. Data and analytics play an integral part in each of these areas and will continue to support their success in the future.
What has been your path to power?
I have always been passionate about mathematics, problem-solving and technology, which is why I have pursued a 20-year career in data and analytics. My journey started at Sun Microsystems, an IT company recognised for its innovation, and this enabled me to grow and appreciate the power of harnessing data through technology to improve business performance.
Starting as an analyst and then working through different data specialisms for diverse industries, I have learnt how they can combine to actively drive business performance. It has given me the experience to confidently evolve strategies which can achieve timely benefits for any organisation.
My academic background in leadership equipped me with the skills to build high-performing teams, with a common vision and development paths which underpin both business and personal aspirations. Through the years, I have remained aligned with advances in the industry, establishing a network of subject matter experts who can help me cultivate ideas which deliver a greater impact for stakeholders.
As data continues to grow exponentially it presents a vast array of opportunities for analytics to advance and deliver benefits in all walks of life. Each day presents me new ways to push boundaries and benefit others.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
My greatest satisfaction is seeing my contribution to a team or business help achieve its goals. For instance, this year, although challenging, saw Avon recognise commercial analytics twice for its support to the business. In our internal recognition programmes, the team won once in our “Albee Stars”, as part of the Covid-19 response team, and then again at the end of the year in the Annual Albee Awards for “Win as one team”.
These awards celebrated the commitment and passion of our team, helping to elevate analytics as a true differentiator. I am proud to lead a team who have grown and added value throughout the year.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
My vision is to position data and analytics at the heart of all decision making in Avon, demonstrating the value it offers to the organisation. Evolving a data-led culture will rely on us continuing to develop strategic partnerships with the business. This will enable us to prioritise our efforts in leveraging technology to maximise our data assets and help the business realise its full potential in driving competitive advantage.
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?
Avon has been making decisions for many years, with continuous technology advances presenting new opportunities and challenges in their market. Business growth is powered by over 5 million representatives worldwide, each in their own right a potential social influencer.
There is a wealth of knowledge in the business and this is instrumental to gaining traction in the market. Add this to the combined insight from online and offline data and the business is able to make more targeted decisions, using facts in support of personal experience and intuition.
In data and analytics, we have created a balance between business and technical expertise, allowing our analysts to credibly partner with stakeholders and appreciate their objectives, through clearer understanding of the organisational strategy, systems and processes.
The ability to story tell and visualise data in a way which enables positive actions to be taken remains a critical skill for analysts. At the moment, you can connect the world of data with business and quickly witness the excitement from stakeholders, motivated by a desire to learn more and collaborate on analytical solutions.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
To win the hearts and minds of a business, everyone should be able to relate to the data and analytics strategy, recognising its benefits. Accomplishing buy-in from leadership is critical as they will become advocates and investors, while consulting with their teams to ensure everyone is involved in the overall journey.
Developing a data first mindset starts with data being appreciated as a collective responsibility, generating the right collaborative environment to achieve strategic priorities. Focused communication channels are essential, tailored to technical or business expertise, helping to ensure knowledge is shared and actions are taken to remove barriers to progress.