How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
At Virgin Money, we are tirelessly improving our entire customer experience through the use data and analytics throughout the customer journey. Continuing to increase our understanding of customers is enabled by undertaking intelligent analytics of how customers engage with us and their money. Acquiring this knowledge allows us to deliver communications aligned to customers’ needs. We will continue to progress this during the coming year with continued developments across our data landscape.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
2020 was the year that we will look back on and draw huge inspiration from in the future. We set out with a plan in early 2020 which included embedding a new team, delivering training, and visiting many of our locations. Lockdown brought the shutters down on that plan very suddenly with everyone working remotely from that point onward.
While the pandemic ripped right through our plan, it also provided an opportunity to elevate the benefit of quality data and analytics. We saw a lot of our time switching to understanding how customers were interacting with us and their money during this period. The insight gained from this enabled our communications to be meaningful and provide support to our customers during a challenging year. As an example, using analytics we were able to target support to customers and elevate the level of digital engagement.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
2021 will be an extension of 2020 with a lot of rapid change and adaption required – we’ve seen that already. 2020 created the foundation by demonstrating what is possible and increased the appetite for quality insight. Throughout 2021, we expect this to continue and expand the reach and impact of analytical insight as we work to disrupt the status quo within banking.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Data for good is a wide-ranging concept and something that we all have a role in as an individual and an employee/leader. If organisations are to make real positive impacts through their environmental, social, and corporate governance agendas, then data will play a pivotal part in this. I expect 2021 will see this becoming an increasing focus for many analytical teams, both internally to their organisation and how can their skills and experiences be leveraged across areas such as the third sector.
What has been your path to power?
In my case it all started from understanding how businesses and functional units work. Gaining this perspective allowed me to gain a system orientated picture of how organisations hang together, akin to an input > process > output view. This outlook on an organisation has enabled me to undertake a variety of translator type roles and build an extensive network of contacts in a whole variety of disciplines.
My career path has been personally enthralling as I undertook roles in business banking helping to develop business intelligence solutions. From there, I moved into the finance discipline where I undertook a senior business partner role working with the leadership team to understand performance drivers and the outlook.
More recently I have focused my time within the brand and marketing discipline, driving forward a marketing analytics capability which is able to operate across a variety of areas. At each stage of this journey, it has been vital to learn from those around me, as inevitably that has helped me as a leader but also helps to create teams that are going to deliver real impacts across the organisation.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Building new teams with a mix of diverse skills and identifying new talent to join has excited me at every stage of my career. The opportunity to blend experience with exciting future talent is a fascinating prospect. Getting the right mix of people sets the framework for an enthralling journey in the future as you shape the analytical strategy and deliver pieces of value throughout the organisation. I have had the fortune to build an amazing team like this on two different occasions and I often reflect on this with fondness.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
Virgin Money’s organisational purpose is “making you happier about money” and this is complemented perfectly through the intelligent use of data and analytics. There are many ways we can help customers to understand their relationship with money and identify actions that support them to leverage solutions or make changes which will make a real difference to each customer.
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?
In many ways we are fortunate that banking has a huge need for data and analytics. What makes this fascinating is the variety of areas that have a need for this insight spans across the entire organisation. This creates opportunities for new areas of exploration on an ongoing basis. However, the real power comes from being able to connect with a purpose and use that as the “North star” that guides our intelligent use of insight and how we can help people with their money.
At an industry level, it is evident that some great strides are being made through data and analytics, with many organisations pointing to exciting developments which have come to market in the last few years, with many more in the pipeline.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
This is a tricky path to navigate where many have struggled to make real change. From my experience, it begins with setting a vision of where we will get to – you don’t need to get too bogged down by the "how?" at this point. The vital balance to strike is to make the vision real so people will feel when it has been achieved. Leave it open ended and many become frustrated as each achievement uncovers the next opportunity for exploration. A way to achieve this is through compelling visualisations, combined with a story telling capability that brings excitement and enthusiasm into the mix as progress is made.