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Eloy Sasot, Former Group Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Richemont

At the time of compiling the list, Eloy Sasot was group chief data and analytics officer, Richemont

 

What has been your path to power?

 

Curiosity led me to live diverse experiences in eight industries (b2c, b2b, gov) and multi-cultural environments in Europe, Asia and America. The first steps were at the European Space Agency, publishing scientific papers on space weather and then becoming spacecraft orbit coder. I further complemented my Master of Mathematical Engineering with an MBA, allowing me to move into the “business world”, evolving in change transformation in wind energy and as global pricer in financial services for American Express.

 

Following that I moved into a pioneering data science for business leadership role in the media conglomerate News Corp, creating a data-driven function from scratch to ultimate lead it globally. From there, I went to launch, from inception, global data and AI transformation in a world leading consumer facilities and food services conglomerate, Sodexo, on data strategy, delivery and capability building coordination. Recently, I moved to facilitate, with data and AI, how the luxury industry can conquer the next frontier in sustainable new retail as group chief data and analytics officer for the leading luxury conglomerate Richemont.

What impact has the pandemic had on the role of data in your company/organisation?

 

Richemont was already a leading visionary in foreseeing digital transformation before the pandemic started, with partnerships with Alibaba in China and online distributor acquisitions of YNAP and Watchfinder, for instance. The pandemic accelerated both the time and realisation across the company of the deep change happening within luxury new retail and the implied move towards more client centricity. While the creation of the new data and analytics role and function that I represent had been anticipated a bit earlier, the pandemic made it quickly become a strategic pillar and fundamental prerequisite to embrace and thrive in new retail.

Does data now have a seat at the table during strategic discussions? If not, what will it take to get it there?

 

In a group of companies there are many “tables”. Currently, data has an executive sponsor at the main table. Over the first year of the data and analytics group function, we have created the role of executive data sponsors across the different luxury “maisons” (businesses), who, on top of their respective primary role, also own the data roadmaps and transversal data strategy coordination in each respective business.

 

What are your key areas of focus for data and analytics in 2022?

 

2022 is a continuation of the journey across the three data strategy levels. In business optimisation it is about further extending the successful first impacts on AI and analytics. In ramping up the data foundations, it is about incorporating further tech innovation in platforms and data upgrades, with renewed focus on client data. And in strategy and organisation it is about bringing it all together while driving further data acculturation and adaptation of data organisations and operating models.

 

A special topic of focus is data and AI compliance, including ethics. Beyond the natural risk mitigation, these are very much in line with the corporate values on responsibility. For instance, we are taking very seriously the evolution of laws in Europe and in China.

 

Tell us what leadership means to you in the context of your role as a senior data leader.

 

For me the essence of data leadership comes in three aspects. First it is an underlying mindset of serving all stakeholders to help them embrace their role in data transformation. We are not just driving value in the short term, but creating a sustainable data ecosystem for business growth. Second it is strategic oversight and operational focus to deliver the right balance in pace of change across all data areas. Third it is humble learning to keep upgrading on best data practices and the business context. And, of course, it also requires general leadership set-ups such as working on your own strengths and surrounding yourself with a team that complements your weaknesses.

What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role?

 

Purposefulness, curiosity and adaptability. In data, you are often misunderstood for long periods of time. You need to have a strong belief and passion in your purpose, which in turns feeds perseverance and overarching grit. Curiosity and humility are required to keep learning from others and from your failures. And finally, adaptability allows the navigation of the natural ambiguities of data – a good change agent must be able to change himself.

 

How did you develop – and continue to develop – these skills or attributes?

 

It is first about working on something you are passionate about, or getting the “what” right. In my case, data encapsulates complexity and many of the areas I love, including maths, business, tech, people, innovation and strategy. Secondly, it is about aligning with something you believe in, or getting the “why” right. For instance, I am keen to support the organisation with its strong sustainability goals. Lastly, it is about trying and learning, or getting the ”how” right. I have made lots of mistakes, but these made me stronger. If you don’t fail, it means you are not innovating fast enough.

Is the data tech you have keeping pace with your goals and requirements? Are your providers leading or lagging behind your demands?

 

Yes, data technology is a critical foundation of our data transformation. We combine a mix of core data platforms, internal expertise with major leading partners – such as Google Cloud, AWS and Alibaba Cloud- and the complementary partners that allow us to evolve the technology stack. We are striving for a necessary balance between incorporating major trends to match our needs – such as new tooling on data transformation, quality and observability- while doing so at a sensible pace. For example, we aren’t quite ready for “data meshing” just yet.

 

Eloy Sasot
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2019 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)