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Robin Huggins, director of academy, MBN

Robin Huggins

Path to power

I entered the data industry 20 years ago, originally as a recruiter. Since then, I’ve spent my time wearing two overlapping hats. As client services director for MBN Solutions, I work with a portfolio of international organisations, assisting them to become the go-to destinations for the very best in data and technology. I am passionate about the concept of “talent magnetism” and have spent the last two decades engaging with like-minded individuals and brands.

My other hat sees me work more closely with emerging talent. I designed and deployed the highly successful Data Lab MSc. Placement Programme, and act as talent advisor to DMA Scotland. In addition, I collaborate with university bodies as an industrial advisor and am the host of one of the UK’s largest data meet-up groups. I’m also a regular speaker and presenter about talent magnetism at events and conferences throughout the country.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

Making the 2019 Data IQ 100 was a special moment, so making it again is incredible. Having collaborated with many of the people named in the list, it is an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as them.

 

2019’s Data Lab MSc Placement Programme was also special. We placed 100 data students into projects, which is a huge achievement. To go from concept stage a couple of years ago to a scalable, high quality solution has been a very satisfying experience. We’ve placed over 220 students through the programme now, with many of them subsequently securing excellent roles in the industry.

 

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

Cheesy response, but the answer would be my CEO (Michael Young). We look to each other for ideas and inspiration and he ensures I don’t loiter in my comfort zone. The other directors at MBN have also been important in this regard but, having worked for Michael for ten years, he’s been my guiding light.

 

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

Pretty much so, yes. The first half of the year was all about the Data Lab MSc. Programme. We completed that in June. I had a quick break then got straight back into the experienced hire space with some amazing organisations through the latter part of the year. Everything went pretty much according to script.

 

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

Exciting times. I think we’re really starting to see a much more ethical approach developing as an embedded culture within the industry. I think 2020 will continue in that regard, as more and more data practitioners recognise that, as individuals, we can have responsibility for our own destiny.

 

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

I’m very excited about the opportunities that artificial intelligence present across society – particularly in the health sector. With the obvious challenges facing the sector, I’m intrigued to see how AI can improve the quality and speed of treatment for a variety of illnesses.

 

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

I don’t think the biggest challenge is tech – I think the biggest challenge is talent. Good people can learn anything you need them to. At the centre of my “talent magnetism” piece is the understanding that no matter how well thought out the strategy, or how capable the tools, no strategy can be successful without talent. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, those organisations who wholly embrace a “talent magnetism” strategy will be successful. Those who don’t…

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