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Yogen Rana, Head of data strategy, design and governance, The AA

Path to power

 

My career started after becoming a computer science graduate, when I joined Eon (or Powergen as it was known then). I worked in a number of IT teams during my time there, from managing the data flows coming in through the industry gateway to creating the Powergen website. I then moved to the bright lights of London and began work at a small consultancy specialising in data-centric solutions. There, I worked with several large clients and opened the doors to travel. I worked across government, defence and consumer goods in Asia and Europe developing databases, data warehouses and data capture solutions. The experience of working with different clients and the exposure to technology, approaches and people that consulting provided was appealing, so my next move was to Accenture. There, I continued to work for large global clients across data and analytics implementing large data-driven transformation programmes.

 

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

 

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and great companies in various locations, so it’s hard for me to pick a single highlight. If I was to pick a single item, then that would have to be where I am at the moment, working for The AA, with the opportunity to reorganise, stabilise and reinvent how data is used, managed and governed in the organisation.

 

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

 

I would have to say, be more confident - it’s ok to be wrong and, sometimes, it’s better to be wrong and learn from the process than know you are right, but not have the confidence to communicate it. Take more risks - sometimes opportunities that sound like they may not be the path you are looking for can have great outcomes. Finally, find a good mentor - I’ve had brief periods of time where a senior manager or colleague has helped show me what can be achieved and the method in which to do it.

 

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

 

Having started a new job in 2018, I can say it has in many ways. I knew starting something new would bring new challenges and opportunities but also, sometimes, you don’t know what to expect. In terms of the industry, the embedding of GDPR and all that it entails was something to be expected but the number of breaches was probably not what most people were expecting.

 

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

 

I think there are still so many things going on, It will likely be more of the same. We will still see more and more organisations making better use of their data through analytics and machine learning for better decision-making, automation and experimentation and, maybe, an increase in using voice, text and images for wider applications. I think we will also find more linkages back to value and really understand what initiatives will drive value (in the year of Brexit), as well as optimising agility in delivery and improving our understanding of our customers in the post-GDPR world.

 

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

 

We continue to use the traditional ways to recruit and scale through the help of our partners. I feel that The AA as a great British brand has its own appeal, especially with the diverse set of businesses and products from roadside assistance to financial services and everything in between to get you on the road. This diversity means it also has a wide variety of data and this is what interested me.

 

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

 

If I had to pick one, I would say the use of data to drive or create automation. I think we will see more and more products trying to automate either processes, customer interactions or help to provide more actionable information in order to save us all the most precious commodity - time!

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