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Dawn Hemingway, head of data, NSPCC

Dawn Hemingway

Path to power

Following a number of administrative roles, I fell into the data world as a quality assurance executive at an agency that eventually became part of Rapp. I stayed for 20 years, progressing through the ranks and leading on delivery, development, solution implementations, analytical and data planning projects as well as managing clients.

 

Being involved in a wide range of projects meant I had a hands-on understanding of many areas of the data spectrum and managing clients directly taught me how to translate these to business needs and think about commercial returns.

 

Following my time at Rapp, I joined the loyalty agency ICLP to head up its data practice in Europe, where I further honed my skills and knowledge, driving solutions and insights in the loyalty space that would further develop the relationship between brands and customers.

 

Two years ago, I stepped over the fence to work client side for NSPCC, where I’ve been able to leverage my previous experience to transform our approach and use of data, culminating in an agreed three-year data strategy which we’re in the process of delivering.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I’ve had many proud moments over the years and have been privileged to work on interesting projects with amazing brands. But, I’m most proud of the teams I’ve worked with and what they’ve achieved. As a data lead, I’ll only be as good as the team working with me, so empowering and inspiring them to deliver great things and have them receive well deserved credit always makes me proud. Aligned to this, I have implemented apprentice schemes at past two roles and take pride in championing new data talent.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

I’ve been fortunate to work with some brilliant people over the years, including many senior level females when there were few. Like myself, they aren’t ones to push themselves into the spotlight, so I won’t name them, but they’ll know who they are.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

In many ways 2019 lived up to expectations, I delivered a three-year data strategy to our board and gained approval to move forward. The strategy transforms the way we work with data and for the organisation to buy into the vision and be willing to fund it is incredible. Although the strategy is moving forward, it was a slow start and we’re hoping to catch up this year. An unexpected area which has been integral is the creation of a data ethics framework; this has evolved our thinking, particularly on digital data and has created the opportunity to upskill the wider organisation.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

There’s likely to be continued investment. However, following a number of years of investment, it’s likely boards will start to expect to see a return on this. I’m expecting data leads and their teams to become more business savvy and consider projects more commercially. As we’re now almost two years since GDPR came in force, and organisations are more comfortable with compliance, it’s possible we’ll see further thinking on data ethics. With the recent statement from the Information Commissioner’s Office on ad-tracking and real-time bidding, I’m expecting a shake-up of the regulation and a rethink of how digital data is collected and used.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

We need to empower all generations to gain the benefit from handing over their data, while ensuring organisations are held more accountable for their actions. A key conversation for us is around data ethics and the ability to use data for good. There is an opportunity for everyone to gain trust with society by being transparent and trustworthy.

 

What is the biggest tech challenge you face in ensuring data is at the heart of your digital transformation strategy?

Like many organisations, the NSPCC has a number of legacy systems which are difficult to integrate with and come with their own challenges and issues. Having a clear data strategy is imperative; as a charitable organisation, our technology, resources and budgets are finite and much smaller than commercial organisations, so we need to be creative with our solutions to create maximum output for minimum input.

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