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Ian Scholey, analytics director, Mars Petcare

Ian Scholey

Path to power

Following a degree in mathematics and a master’s in operational research, I have had a number of roles in data analytics leading to my current position at Mars Petcare. From analysing clinical trials to building models to optimise steel production, to predicting turnover of new pubs, I certainly looked for variety early on in my career to give me a broad view of where analytics could be applied and the commercial benefits realised.

 

The longest part of my career was spent at 5one, a customer centric consultancy, which was a one-year-old start-up when I joined. It gave me great exposure to the challenges of making a start-up work, knowing every project counted and every new business win was massive. I had a few roles at 5one, culminating in chief analytics officer of the global business. My previous positions provided great experience for my current role, as I was the second member of a new team with ambitions to power the strategy of a global organisation.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

Probably what I am doing right now. The insights that my team deliver are changing the way our business thinks and acts, and genuinely enabling us to deliver our purpose: A Better World For Pets.

 

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

My dad. He is honest, hardworking and loyal and never shirks a job, however difficult it is.

 

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

At the start of the year we had goals and aspirations we didn’t know we could meet - but we did. A nascent, UK based team, we’ve now doubled in size, and expanded our team to New York and Shanghai. I expected big changes, tough challenges and a lot of excitement and that’s what I got.

 

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

Growth and more growth. However, at some point there are going to be more challenges on directly measurable value creation, and the sooner teams face into proving their value, the easier it will be for them to maintain the levels of growth, investment and influence they could have. This is something we have done this year and will build on continuously.

 

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

I think the biggest emerging opportunity is for individualised healthcare (human and pet). Governments and businesses worldwide are looking to create huge DNA data banks and link these to health and medical records. The analysis of these data banks will advance our knowledge of individual health hugely and create unthought of diagnostic tools, leading to new, more effective preventative and curative treatments that are tailored to each patient, and, ultimately, to every member of society.

 

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

I don’t see technology as the challenge, I see education and change management as the biggest challenges. How we get people to adopt new insights and analytics into their daily workflow where it hasn’t been before is incredibly difficult. Almost everyone would agree that fact-based decision making should be a fundamental principle of working life but getting the right information to people who need it in a way they can understand and act on it is the big ongoing challenge.

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