Path to power
I’ve been in the industry for a very long time - I love the constant growth and opportunity. I founded a data business, which I sold to News International and continued to lead in its post-sale growth and evolution and then post-second sale to the Callcredit Information Group. After we sold Callcredit to private equity, I was lucky enough to find a new challenge - global exposure at Wunderman.
I had a great role with them in the UK, EMEA and, latterly, in New York leading the global data and insights team. It was great to understand the global trends and growth and opportunities occurring in the market. This led me to join Starcount, which was set up by Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby. It is fantastic to continue my interests in new and emerging data techniques, and to be able to work with the best people.
During my career, I’ve also led mergers and acquisitions and I keep my interests going through various investments in data-centric organizations and fintech. Additionally, I chaired the IDM for over ten years and now am fortunate to be deputy chair of the DMA Group at this time of great change.
What was your data highlight of 2016?
Since joining Starcount, I’ve seen some fantastic strides in the field of customer insight, in particular using customer and social data to understand real people’s genuine passions, aspirations and motivations, and leveraging this insight to drive functional and emotional loyalty for brands.
What do you expect 2017 to be like for the data and analytics industry?
It’s an exciting time to be working in the data industry. I believe that more organisations will start to focus on becoming truly relevant to their customers this year. Two things need to happen. Firstly, clients have to get better at driving more value from their own first-party data by augmenting their data. Secondly, while doing this, the brands need to enable consumers to manage their own data.
So - why did you choose data?
I was attracted to data because it’s both logical and creative. All decisions will involve an element of gut instinct, but a well-informed decision can only be made with the right data. It’s also a brilliant industry if you enjoy working with and learning about a wide range of people - which I do!
What is the best thing about working in the data industry?
The pace of change and the opportunity. I genuinely think we are in the most exciting times for data and I love the fact that whole new generations with new skills are doing clever and exciting things.
If you were granted one wish to change something about the data industry, what would it be?
Better collaboration on the role(s) all types of data play across brands’ performance.
And what has been your toughest lesson?
There have been many tough lessons, some come from known sources, but some are just big, out-of-the-blue challenges. Learning how to react quickly and make the most of those changes has been critical. I would say, listen hardest to what you least want to hear.