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Andy Ruckley, Chief Data Officer, Sea

Describe your career to date

 

My career began nearly 30 ago as an Analyst in a Marketing department, where data about customer behaviour was used to tailor marketing messages and this gave me a real thirst to turn data into actionable insights. While working for a large mobile phone operator, I decided to study for a Master’s in Applied Statistics which, with the large data-sets available, allowed me to build many segmentations and predictive models. This is where I first experienced the power that good insights can bring to effective decision making.  

 

I took this enthusiasm for data with me into my senior management roles, where my focus moved from customer strategy and CRM to enabling the whole business through business intelligence and data warehousing. I then focused on building strategies and approaches that delivered holistic data ecosystems that could support timely insights on an architecture of modern, flexible technologies. During my time at ASOS, a key focus for me was the importance of bringing the right people together to provide the right blend of data architecture, data stewardship and data engineering skills to tie economic significance to the value of data.  

 

I brought this learning into Photobox and took it a step further by embedding team members into the product teams to help champion data, showcasing how it can benefit the business and raise people’s understanding of how to use and interpret it, especially in improving the customers experience of a web journey. Now at Sea, I am enjoying bringing all of this together into the shipping industry, which is really starting to embrace data and actionable insight. To deliver on our purpose of powering better decisions to enable sustainable shipping, we are looking to deliver relevant insights and intelligence in many areas to enable our customers to make efficient choices – whether that is predicting port congestion or optimising vessel selections for their given cargos while minimising carbon emissions. 

How are you developing the data literacy of your organisation, including the skills of your data teams and of your business stakeholders?  

 

Within Sea, we tailor our efforts in developing data literacy to the different teams, but there are some common themes that span them all. We encourage curiosity and ask people to take a step back to avoid them getting focused on the first solution they think of. We facilitate this by providing a collaborative environment where people can hear different perspectives on how to solve a problem. We also help people link the impact of the task at hand to business goals and objectives so that they understand the context of the request and can develop a more appropriate solution. Within the Data and Analytics team, we facilitate development and knowledge transfer by asking everyone to give a short update on something interesting they have learned in the last month. It can be related to new skills around analytical techniques or programming, or an overview of a presentation they have watched, read, or attended. This helps the team stay abreast of the latest trends and stimulates curiosity. We also provide access to relevant training platforms for technical skills and regularly review training requirements for consultancy to improve the adoption of findings through stakeholder management and delivering a compelling narratives and stories. For our stakeholders, the focus is on aiding their comprehension and interpretation of visualisations and reports, as well as fostering their critical thinking, understanding of data regulations and ethics, and challenging of assumptions. By coaching them to ask the correct questions we are having more meaningful conversations with them and have increased the quality of data-driven decisions taken. 

 

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

 

Over the last 18 months, we have made great strides on our journey to move from using data operationally to leveraging it as a strategic asset. Our focus for the next 18 months is to transform it into a competitive differentiator, driven by its innovative application within our market. There have been three strategic streams guiding this data journey. The first stream is about data transparency and confidence. We introduced tools that allowed us to understand our data and data quality, as well as the accuracy of the assumptions and logic of key attributes. We also introduced a data glossary that not only gives visibility of which data sets to use and which to avoid, but crowd-sources knowledge by allowing everyone to contribute.  

 

The second stream is about being data driven. We are enabling product teams to understand how our software is performing from a technical perspective, as well as how customers are using our products and quantifying the customer experience into key metrics. We have also started looking at how machine learning and artificial intelligence can help automate data-driven decisions both internally and for our customers. Naturally, this has thrown up new and exciting challenges, not least of which is what business problems we are trying to solve with this technology. 

 

The final stream centres on innovation and monetisation. This is all about developing a competitive advantage through the innovative application of data, and creating a service that customers are willing to pay a premium for. 

Andy Ruckley
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2020 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)