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Janet Snedden, Chief Executive Officer, CustomerKind

Path to power


My career started in an odd place. Having graduated in maths and stats, I joined an international drinks company and inadvertently agreed to do my first placement in a retail sales role. What a learning curve! But, in some ways, this was my first experience of consultancy, too, where I quickly discovered that arguments based on insight and data intelligence give you a great advantage. This experience at the sharp end of the business stood me in good stead as I progressed into brand marketing. Being numerate, I naturally became responsible for the marketing budget and endless rounds of budget trimming. I realise now that this is probably where my interest in marketing effectiveness began – there had to be a rationale for what got the chop and what remained in the plan.Having transferred to the agency-side relatively early in my career, I have thrived on understanding the marketing model in lots of sectors and have truly enjoyed devising data-driven solutions to unlocking growth. I’ve worked for small specialist analytical agencies and big groups such as Wunderman and Havas, and now I am fulfilled in dealing direct with clients as CustomerKind.


What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?


I get my kicks out of getting results for clients and some of my proudest moments have been when those have been recognised through industry award wins. I have been fortunate to have worked with some great brands and people who have been brave enough to try out innovative approaches and have been in awe of the talent and dedication in the teams around me -volunteers as well as colleagues. Fanatical about discovering and promoting best practice, I am particularly proud of establishing the Insight in Fundraising Awards, coaxing the data community to make their contribution to fundraising success more visible and raising the profile of the discipline in the sector.


If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?


Don’t be afraid to speak up. Be relentlessly interested in the world around you and make the time to learn more about the topics you are interested in. When you are curious and well read, it is easier to form opinions and fuel the debate. No-one has all the answers to what works and does not work in today’s highly-complex marketing environment, so hone your POV and people will listen. Back this confidently with empirical evidence and the world is yours!In 2018, GDPR came and went with more of a ripple than the apocalypse that some predicted. Most clients were well prepared and tackled the new legislation in the spirit that was intended – to give consumers more control over how their data is used and respect their choices. As a fresh independent, I must admit that I expected to be faced with lots of last-minute crises to address GDPR compliance, but am glad that everyone has been very future-focused, having already put core governance programmes in place. However, the hullaballoo generated a surge in demand for strategy and ways to exploit proprietary customer intelligence – a sweet spot for my blend of expertise and perhaps why 2018 zipped by in a blur? Note to self – must try harder to slow down.


What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?


As more clients’ digital transformation projects make progress and the capabilities for orchestrating omni-channel customer communications advance, greater emphasis will be placed on the customer experience in 2019. Previous inter-disciplinary lines will blur and great customer engagement initiatives will emerge from many sources. These will all rely on insight and data intelligence to succeed and data professionals will be welcomed with open arms into the heart of project teams. As we embrace a more agile approach, pragmatic analytical applications will take centre stage focusing on specific business problems to solve, rather than trying to boil the ocean (or vast data lakes). AI is not going away, but folks will get more specific about its potential.


Talent and skills are always a challenge to find – how are you tackling this in your organisation?


The best people like a significant challenge, so striking a balance between business as usual delivery and pioneering work is a must. I try to give the colleagues and clients that I work with the space and support to achieve the outcomes desired, while stretching the boundaries of what is possible. Rigour in thinking leads to better outcomes, but creativity is important as well as having fun along the way! To encourage more young talent to enter the industry, I regularly speak to sixth-formers in local schools and am proud to have supported the Women in Data initiative.


What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?


Regardless of the current drive to redress the gender imbalance across all industries, I genuinely believe that the softer skills that women can bring to the field of data and analytics are a positive force. Data does not make a difference until it has been applied, so in addition to core technical prowess, the need for increased data visualisation, interpretation and championing organisational change will inevitably be remedied by increased diversity.Business and professional services inc. recruitment

Janet Snedden
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2019 (EMEA)