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Robin Huggins, Director of academy and client services , MBN Solutions

Path to power

 

I entered the data industry in 2000, after spending the previous few years at university studying Psychology and Human Resource Management. My roles have always been at the sharp end of talent acquisition practice for the data industry. Originally (and fundamentally) a recruiter, I’ve spent the last ten years focusing on bridging the gap between the experienced hire needs of a portfolio of clients for MBN Solutions and teaching innovative ways in which organisations can grow their own talent via a variety of channels. There’s more than a little of the “poacher turned gamekeeper” about the work that I do! I’ve worked very closely with academics and education providers to tailor learning and development topics that assist fresh data industry talent with the skills that they need to secure their roles within industry, while ensuring that MBN Solutions remains the go-to choice for organisations looking to secure the very best in experienced talent. My work has also seen me present at a variety of universities around the country, collaborating with industry experts, educators, policy-makers and focus groups to address the pressing needs of the data industry with regards to ensuring that fresh talent finds it way into the industry.

 

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

 

Seriously, probably this! Making the DataIQ 100 is something I could only have dreamed about a couple of years ago. I’ve known a lot of the people included in previous years’ lists and they are some truly impressive individuals - and very decent human beings, too - so I am truly honoured to be included along with them. If I was allowed another choice, it would be leading the Data Lab’s MSc placement programme. There’s something uniquely special going on in the data industry in Scotland and to be asked to lead a high-profile programme like this is both an honour and a privilege.

 

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

 

I’d say to me then what I say to others (and myself) now - be yourself. Be the best version of you that you can be. Accept your flaws and vulnerabilities and be stronger for accepting you are not perfect. It’s ok. Surround yourself with good people and they will bring out the best in youYes, it did. It went very much according to plan. We sat down as a board at the end of 2017 and set some targets and objectives that I’m delighted to say we have achieved in almost every way. I became a director at MBN Solutions, delivered the Data Lab MSc placement programme for the second year with record uptake, was asked to contribute to and then lead DMA Scotland’s Talent Hub, chaired and spoke at a number of conferences and events on the subject of data talent and was a finalist at the Data IQ awards (beaten by my friends at Merkle Aquila, so it’s ok!). I think it’s fair to say, I’ve had a decent 2018!

 

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

 

Interesting…and emotional! I think the industry is in fine shape at present and I expect the bar to continue to be raised on a whole range of initiatives. I think 2019 will be a huge year for everyone as we set about exceeding 2018’s results. I hope that any doom and gloom and uncertainty over the future is set aside as we continue to do great things together!

 

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

 

Is this a trick question? MBN Solutions eats, sleeps and breathes data talent. It’s what I think about when I go to sleep and what my CEO annoys me with far too early in the morning when he wakes me up via WhatsApp. We changed the game for talent in previous years and we’ll continue to deliver the very best we can by innovating, disrupting and collaborating with cool, clever folks who “get it”. We’ll continue to focus our efforts on our community, leading the way with events, meet-ups, university collaborations and thought leadership. We will find the talent. We will nurture the talent. It’s what we do.

 

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

 

I am most optimistic about the increasing awareness around ethics in the industry. To quote Jeff Goldblum in “Jurassic Park”: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” It’s time to start thinking, as an industry, about whether we should.Business and professional services inc. recruitment
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