Path to power
Not sure that I would call it a path to power, but after a brief flirtation with a career in computer games testing in the late 1990s, I’ve worked in a number of data roles, starting as a database executive for a market research company and then for an engineering company, Buhler Sortex, in East London.
After that, I moved from client-side to agency-side as an account executive and then account manager for Broadsystem, a marketing services and database specialist agency, where I first got to work with Single Customer Views. In 2007, I joined Oxford University Press as a data and systems analyst where I continued to specialise in developing SCVs to support the delivery of marketing strategies.
I joined BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider, as marketing analysis and reporting manager in 2012 where we started to build a small team of data specialists covering compliance, quality management, and developing good uses of data. Currently, I’m head of data and analysis with responsibility for developing and delivering BMJ’s data strategy which is focused on delivering value from our customer and user data.
What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?
The highlight so far has been the successful implementation of BMJ’s data strategy. This has seen data and analytics grow from a fragmented discipline spread across a number of functions into a coherent approach. It is enabling value to be derived from our data by effectively managing compliance risks, improving data quality management processes, and developing our overall data capability. This allows us to use data to run more effective marketing campaigns that engage audiences with our content and also to transform data into information that can be used to support good business decisions.
What do you expect 2018 to be like for the data and analytics industry?
Unsurprisingly, we are going to be hearing a lot about GDPR, so roll on 25th May! Beyond that, I think there will be continued focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
So - why did you choose data?
In truth, I was at a loose end after having been a computer games tester and my first database executive roles were about being gainfully employed. I was then lucky enough to realise that I had found a niche which allowed me to develop my skills and interest in managing data and systems well so that they could be used to do something useful, whether that be delivering information efficiently or engaging audiences with content.
What is the best thing about working in the data industry?
Is it too cheesy to say the people? I’ve worked for a series of fantastic organisations over the last 20 years and, in all of those, I’ve been able to work alongside great colleagues.
If you were granted one wish to change something about the data industry, what would it be?
I’d like to see less hype around potentially useful applications, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and more focus on making a difference by addressing the fundamentals - compliance, quality, capability - to deliver good information to support evidence based decision making.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of a career in this sector?
Go for it! The sector has a wide variety of disciplines from delivering analytics through to data engineering. That means there are plenty of areas to explore, develop and specialise in that can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career in data.