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Orlando Machado, Chief Data Officer, The LEGO Group

Describe your career to date

It all started back in my academic days, dabbling in statistical modelling and analysis. This was way before data scientist became a cool title. The days of pure data crunching and finding joy in numbers, setting me up for the journey ahead. Something I did not think to mention for many years was that I worked in a university department of Epidemiology – very trendy since 2020. Then came my stint at the BBC. Here, I got to play with data to predict the future demand for technology services. At the height of the dotcom boom, the emergence of email as the de facto method for business communication and the transfer of video and audio editing to PCs, the future demand was only going in one direction.

Next up was Wunderman, part of the WPP advertising and media group. This is where creativity met data. I got to merge the art of marketing with the science of customer insights. Every day was like piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle of human behaviour, which led me to dunnhumby, diving headfirst into the retail world.

Leading analytics for Tesco and others, I got a real taste of how data can transform shopping experiences. The journey then took me to MoneySuperMarket as Chief Data Scientist – it was fantastic to be able to deploy data-driven customer insights and analytics in a pure online environment, where the pace of change was huge. I then moved to Aviva as Global Chief Data Scientist. In many ways this was the opposite of MoneySuperMarket, as Aviva had been founded in 1696, though of course the opportunities arising from understanding customers better through data remained just as relevant.

Now, I am at the LEGO Group as the Chief Data Officer, and it is like living a childhood dream. The opportunities are enormous, from predictive machine learning to optimise our moulding machines, through to AI agents that moderate the content of apps in order to keep kids safe. It is a real privilege to help the world’s most trusted brand in the next stage of its evolution.

Data literacy is a key enabler of the value and impact from data. How are you approaching this within your organisation?

We have a federated approach to data and analytics: most data teams do not sit in my area, though my team acts as a central hub for best practice, and provides the core data technologies that we use across the LEGO Group. Our most advanced use cases are handled centrally in my team, through our Data Science Centre of Excellence. Our approach to data literacy has started with a programme to drive adoption of our new data platform, alongside our data governance framework. This has comprised a number of training programmes aimed at technical and non-technical audiences. We also promote knowledge-sharing around analytics, through the creation of communities-of-practices typically centred around specific business challenges. Our ambition is that we build data literacy and fluency into our overall career development framework, in partnership with our colleagues in HR. At the LEGO Group we have ambitious plans to reinvent the way we deliver learning and development to all of our colleagues, and the promotion of digital and data skills will become a core part of our initiative.

What stage has your organisation reached on its data maturity journey?

We have pockets of great practice, as we have been working on several data science initiatives for a number of years: recommendation engines on our website, demand forecasting, and marketing optimisation. I am trying to lay the foundation for more consistent usage of data across the whole organisation. This starts with a scalable data platform, effective data governance frameworks, high quality data, and clear ethics guidelines. We are early on the journey in becoming an organisation that uses data by default, but the results we are seeing are hugely encouraging!

Orlando Machado
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)
  • No. 1 100 Brands 2019 (EMEA)
  • No. 8 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)