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Mark Chipperfield, Head of data management, BBC TV Licensing

Path to power

 

I can trace my data and marketing career back to a few places, including the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry where I worked in publicity (which basically meant sticky labels and mailing lists), capturing patient requests for hospital radio in Coventry and in Hammersmith, together with an attempt to digitise a well-known publishing company’s data. I was about to (reluctantly) join the Civil Service, when a response to a small ad in the Guardian media section resulted in me being in at the start of the consumer lifestyle data revolution with ICD where we launched the National Consumer Database. That branched out in to analytics, following which I ran my own direct marketing consultancy for a year before joining the innovative Payne Stracey direct marketing agency, prior to moving on to do both B2B and consumer direct marketing at BT, moving in to CRM and data strategy. I am now head of data management at the BBC.

 

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

 

It has to be being at the heart of what enables the BBC to deliver its iconic role. Through overseeing the management and use of customer data and how we make it work efficiently to maximise revenue, and now also increasingly looking at other BBC and external datasets and how we can make that work for the organisation and BBC customer experience. To see the BBC grow and evolve its professionalism in areas like data protection, information security, data management and privacy (alongside working with external expert and committed supplier companies) is a privilege as people working for and with the BBC really care about the organisation. (I have also found the BBC to be an excellent and flexible employer - I was also able to create, manage and run a care company to provide round-the-clock healthcare for a parent over eight years while also working for the BBC).

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Get as much experience in as many different types of organisation and roles as possible, as quickly as possible, as you can bank those experiences and the “what to dos” and the “what not to dos” and learn from others with more knowledge. But ask questions - you will be bringing fresh views and they may be better ones. Work in places for at least a year or two to make and see projects and anything you contribute to developing, then bring all that experience either to working for yourself or your preferred company. Don’t stay where you are unhappy. Do lots of networking in companies you work in and at events, workshops and training you get opportunities to attend.

 

Did 2018 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

 

Pretty much as expected. Some things had to happen on time and did (GDPR), plenty of other things are running slightly or too much behind schedule, and other things just happened, causing the other things to run behind! I think if you keep your eyes open and ears to the ground, you can see most things about to happen. But you can’t control everything.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

I think the GDPR effects will start to become a little bit more visible, eg, who did do what they said they had or were supposed to do and who didn’t. I think we did see a real step-change of understanding or at least awareness from consumers as well as both small and large businesses around the need to look after personal data. E-privacy and related ethical, accessibility and reputational considerations will increasingly become central to the conversation.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

A lot of services are procured and this process, while often time-sapping, is professionally executed and should result in products and services that can deliver our current and future needs. Some areas are recruiting and also taking services in-house and, combined with a forward-looking apprenticeships programme and a revised and continually-updated career path framework, a great deal is happening to attract and develop talent.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

I’m very optimistic that intelligent data services across and between all types of data, including voice and image, will mature and evolve quickly in consumer, business and government sectors, like health and education. We have come so far, so quickly already, but with many search applications still being quite basic. I think advancement will come quicker, services more exciting, as well as more democratised and accessible. 

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