Caroline Bellamy

Chief data officer
Ordnance Survey

Path to power

My path into this wonderful industry began in a slightly strange way - account management at an advertising agency. I was determined to bring strategic thinking and fact-based decisioning into the ad world of the early 90s - fun, laudable, but rather misplaced.

It did forge in me a lifelong passion for keeping the customer at the heart of what we do and reinforced my passion for data-based decisions and actions. Serendipity landed me a role with the newly formed dunnhumby - no greater place or greater people to inspire and to learn the ropes right at the start of the data-based technology, decisioning and marketing Industry.

I enjoyed, over the next 20-plus years, various leadership and, increasingly, transformational roles UK and Internationally. I have worked in almost all business areas demonstrating the power of data to drive real commercial value and optimise ways of working, business and technical.

I went from consulting at dunnhumby to client-side in retail (Sainsbury’s), utilities, customer data and brand acquisitions (Centrica Group, The AA, Goldfish, British Gas, OneTel), Vodafone (UK, group and Germany), most recently joining Ordnance Survey. I am proud to have worked across industries and functions driving the data agenda - It’s my passion.

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

Defining the strategic vision, establishing teams from a zero base and seeing colleagues grow and drive the data agenda and deliver on the mission. Delivering real, tangible, bottom line value and technical capability. I am also particularly proud of the work I have done championing and driving the diversity and inclusion agenda - at all levels - right to board-level.

What do you expect 2018 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

Continued growth and higher customer expectations…..with constrained resources. I do see the opportunity for a coalescence of commercial, public and private sector data capabilities and needs - how we work together to meet them is a challenge and an opportunity. I believe we need to drive value for all…and that we can.

So - why did you choose data?

I was lucky/maybe just plain “middle-aged”, so I was very early into the profession. For my part, I chose data-based decision making - and all that goes with it - people, process, technology and the data itself. It’s a joy to be able to work in all areas of an organisation.

What is the best thing about working in the data industry?

You can make a real difference, it’s fast-paced and inspiring.

If you were granted one wish to change something about the data industry, what would it be?

Less protectionism and fewer ivory towers of expertise/centres of excellence. The more you try to hold onto something and control it, the more you will end up fighting…reach out and let others reach in.

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of a career in this sector?

I was once told / advised: “Data is not a profession and a career in data will certainly not result in a board-level position…” I followed my passion and what I believed in. I encourage you to follow yours. Do not be distracted or dissuaded by “nay sayers” or those stuck in the past.



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