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David Castro-Gavino, Global Vice-President of Data, HelloFresh SE

Describe your career to date

I have been in the technology sector for almost three decades and have worked alongside some of the best in the industry. My passion for data began during a placement at CACI when I was part of the data team that updated the Acorn classification with the 2001 Census data.

 

This was my first real data-related job, during which I gained a deeper understanding of the importance of being customer-centric, the power of data and how it enables us to achieve real business value. In the years since then, I have been fortunate that my career has allowed me to work on five continents and live on three of them.

 

My journey has taken me from the integration of Wegener DM and DLG data warehouses to working with Conchango on a myriad of industry verticals as a business intelligence consultant, to then helping set up HealthDialog Sanitas.

 

In 2011, I joined Dunnhumby where I spent nine years in a variety of technical and commercial roles that allowed me to travel the world, from implementing the data centre of excellence in India, building a team from the ground up to partnering with retailers and brands across the globe to leverage data, science and analytics into the centre of customer-focused decision making.

 

In 2020, after a short period at Booking.com, I joined HelloFresh to lead data globally and drive data maturity by providing frameworks, processes, technology and tools that govern collaboration between data producers and consumers. Ultimately, our mission is to change people’s eating forever by becoming data enabled.

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

The importance of data is well recognised and part of our DNA, which is crucial for a hyper-growth business like HelloFresh. Currently, the data maturity varies based on function, geography or product, but we have already established a global roadmap and successfully worked on cases where enabling data brought real business value.

 

Tell us about the data and analytics resources you are responsible for

I lead the Data Alliance which over the past two years has grown from 25 to almost 150 employees, mainly based in our HQ in Berlin, but also with positions in the US, India and EMEA. The Alliance sits within the HelloTech organisation, and it is composed of a highly skilled and cross-functional team, with three distinct tribes: data platform, core data products and data solutions. In addition, we have the data management and governance department combined with technical program managers, agile coaches, and functional leads for data engineering, data science, reporting, and standardisation. These functions make up a strong data organisation that drives our mission within HelloFresh.

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your organisation and on the industry as a whole?

In a macroeconomic context where we are all facing significant challenges, we are inevitably going to have to focus on cost optimisation and efficiencies in data. As the importance of data access and quality for AI/ML solutions increases, a solid self-serve data approach is needed. Organisations that have adopted the data mesh structures, such as HelloFresh’s hybrid model, will improve maturity. Data quality, governance, and accessibility are crucial for success. To ensure data integrity, data observability, data contracts, and a corporate data marketplace must be leveraged. Lastly, a strong technical foundation and a data-educated workforce will be the key to trusted AI/ML solutions. This focus on data will lead to cost optimisation and efficiencies throughout the entire data lifecycle.

Have you set out a vision for data? If so, what is it aiming for and does it embrace the whole organisation or just the data function?

The Data Alliance’s vision is to be the matchmakers in the data lifecycle across the organisation, bridging the gap between the data producers and data consumers while speeding up time to actionable insight for HelloFresh’s high-priority strategies and driving the ROI of data investments.

 

Have you been able to fix the data foundations of your organisation, particularly with regard to data quality?

The short answer is that we are underway. The process is not yet fixed, but we have put in place the governance, tooling, processes, and mandate that will enable us to measure the data quality of our pipelines and those processes that are most critical to us in order to drive business value.

David Castro-Gavino
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)