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Emma Duckworth, Head of Data Science, Haleon

Describe your career to date 

I am a mathematician by background and have a Master’s in applied mathematics from LSE. My love of maths has translated into a drive for the deep human understanding of consumers and delivering value with data science throughout my 10 years of experience building innovative products in large corporates and start-ups. 

 

I believe data science is a critical tool in solving some of the world’s biggest challenges, from health inclusivity to sustainability. My work has spanned retail, financial services, insurance, utilities, charities, and hospitality, with the use of data to drive competitive advantage a common theme. At Haleon, I take the start-up culture of pace, research and innovation and apply it at scale to a global organisation.

 

I built the global team of data scientists and machine learning engineers at Haleon in the run up to the de-merger from GSK and now lead a team focused on delivering better everyday health with humanity and trusted data science through AI/ML products and innovation in marketing, R&D and supply chain, as well as leading the responsible AI programme for Haleon.​

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

I lead the global data science team at Haleon. This is a centralised team of 40 permanent data scientists and machine learning engineers, based across the UK, US, India and China. The team conducts research and delivers value focused ML solutions across R&D, marketing, digital and supply chain. The team is also responsible for AI/ML standards across the enterprise. I am passionate about building a diverse and inclusive team and have led the introduction of data and analytics apprenticeships at Haleon. 

 

Tell us about any ambitions you have in terms of becoming a data leader 

Data and data science are at the heart of innovation for competitive organisations. As a leader, I am focused on increasing data and AI literacy enabled through a culture of responsible and innovative AI. Increasing diversity and inclusion in the field of data science, which is currently a very under representative industry, is a critical part of building more inclusive AI systems. With more great minds in the field, it is my firm belief that we can find novel and transformative solutions to complex problems and deliver value. 

What key skills or attributes do you consider will be essential your success in this role?

Working in data science requires curiosity and a love of learning. Strength in collaboration, communication, and articulation of value and the art of the possible, are fundamental components of what is required to enable and drive this at scale. Building on this in partnership with colleagues is key to delivering success and embedding solutions that deliver meaningful change.

 

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

I am a big believer in continuous learning, whether this is through feedback from peers and mentors or through coaching. I also read a lot, attend conferences and am an avid podcast fan. The field I love is constantly evolving, so I am always keen to learn from others and to find new ways to improve my skills and understanding.

And what about the skills of your data teams and of your business stakeholders? How are you supporting their data literacy? 

I am passionate about responsible AI and the power of data science and data to drive innovation. For this to be realised at the enterprise level, literacy is essential. 

 

I support the business through the data literacy programme, with modules on responsible AI and ML. I also work to support several data science specific programmes through mini-Master’s, with institutions including MIT, and I run a weekly lecture series called Data Science Download for all those who a curious about data science to attend. 

 

Within the data science team, I work with my leadership team to look at the full range of skills required. I support my team in following a tailored approach to individual development and encourage team members to create learning plans with their line-managers that include technical development and qualifications, online and in-person courses, or softer skills, focused on leadership and communication. 

 

This is achieved through a mix of in-work and external learning solutions, as well as championing coding dojos, involvement in open-source communities and hackathons, all of which help my team engage with a broader network and learn new skills.

 

How do you keep pace or stay in touch with your peer group? Do you see it as important to have an active professional network? 

It’s so important to have an active network. Theory is great, but when it comes to delivering transformation and change, lived experience is invaluable to learn from. It’s great to hear the challenges and solutions others have found in delivering data and strategy enterprise wide, and in building and scaling teams. For me, it is critical to stay in touch both through individual connects and through conferences and industry events to ensure that I not only learn from others, but also contribute to the wider ecosystem of what represents good, and future better practice.

Emma Duckworth
has been included in:
  • Future Leaders 2023 (EMEA)