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DataIQ Awards 2018 winner – Data and analytics leader: Judith kleine Holthaus, Whitbread

Winner: Judith kleine Holthaus, senior analytics and insight manager, Whitbread

Who is she?

Judith joined Whitbread in her current role in 2017 with the mission to build a new team that could deliver insight across the full customer journey for Premier Inn. She previously worked for McDonald’s from 2011, latterly as senior manager, business strategy and insight, having spent three years as an account director at Foresight Factory. She holds a MSc in Management Research from University of Oxford Said Business School.

What does she do?

Within a year of joining Whitbread, Judith has turned what one colleague describes as a “long-neglected corner of the business” that was occasionally consulted into one which now has board-level influence, a centralised team, input into strategic business projects as well as the organisation’s overall business plan. All of this driven by her talent, inspirational approach and leadership.

Her starting point was a project to identify the drivers of guest retention for Premier Inn. This involved processing millions of rows of data on guests and using multivariate regression analysis to understand what is most important to them when staying at a hotel. The goal was to ensure more than £150 million per year in retained revenue from the customer base.

What would have been just a compelling presentation has evolved into much more as a resut of her pasion, drive and enthusiasm. As a result, a set of principles, based around the concept of “Moments of Truth” has now been adopted centrally and given priority by the whole of Premier Inn.

The scale of the shift in culture which she has been able to bring about is significant. More than 30,000 team members who serve guests on-site now receive customised training materials, while the executive board looks to her to tell compelling stories from the underlying raw data. The insight team has become a core partner to the business and is actively involved in writing the business plan for the coming year.

In other aspects of her work, she has developed an international customer strategy with a £200 million annual revenue stream, and has also overhauled the way food quality is delivered and measured across 400 restaurants in the hotel chain’s estate. A whitepaper written by Judity on how to trial new concepts and propositions has become the governing approach for a project pipeline which holds over £500 million in potential benefits across 12 departments in the organisation. 

At the heart of her achievements is the ability to demystify the often forbidding realms of data and analytics, using storytelling to influence departments and decision-making, always with the customer’s interest at heart. This has been critical to the cultural shift from simply reporting to having an appetite for insight.

What did the judges say?

Data and analytics leaders can have a real impact on their business, especially if they learn its language and tell the right stories. The judges were impressed by just how far the insight function has come under Judith’s lead and had no hesitation in recognising her talent, inspiration and passion for the domain.

DataIQ Awards 2018
Year: 2018
Category: Data and Analytics Leader of the Year

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