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Kinnari Ladha

Kinnari Ladha, Chief Data Officer, Merlin Entertainments

Describe your career to date


This year marks my 22nd year in data, my evolution from a seasoned data practitioner to a visionary Chief Data Officer has been nothing short of extraordinary! Picture this: I started with sleeves rolled up, delving into the intricate world of data across diverse sectors, honing my skills along the way. Fast forward to today, and I am not just leading – I am orchestrating! Steering organisations towards data-driven excellence is not just my job; it is my passion. I love being the Chief Data Officer for Merlin Entertainments, the powerhouse behind Europe’s top attractions and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator. Now, that is a role with a twist – infusing innovation through data into the magical realms of entertainment parks. Alongside the amazing people at Merlin Entertainment, we are on a mission to redefine customer and colleague experiences across our diverse portfolio of parks worldwide. Excitement does not even begin to cover it! I am eager to weave data-driven wonders that create unparalleled moments of magic for our visitors. This recognition, making it to the Data Top 100 for the sixth year is not just a trophy; it is a sparkly testament to my unwavering dedication, leadership flair, and the real impact of my data-driven strategies. It is not just an award; it is a nod to the collaborative efforts and transformative initiatives that have turned my career into a shining beacon of excellence in the realm of data. 

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


Over the next thrilling five years, Merlin Entertainments is on the verge of a spectacular journey, setting its sights on data and digital growth, operational efficiency, and a dazzling digital transformation. To make this magic happen, our top priority is to boost data literacy across the entire organisation. Our journey has already begun, and the first step involves a comprehensive assessment of our current data capabilities. This deep dive will unveil the gaps, guiding us in crafting tailored upskilling and re-skilling plans for our existing colleagues. Simultaneously, we are identifying new capabilities needed to propel us into the future. But that is not all – we are partnering with industry wizards to conjure up the Merlin Data Academy. This magical academy will deliver customised training programmes, covering both the technical wizardry of our data teams and the enchanting soft skills our business functions crave. Picture this: a parallel universe where product principles reign supreme, creating a culture of continuous learning that unites IT, Data, and Business teams in a collaborative symphony. As we sprint towards transformation, we are not just relying on our existing team. We are on a quest to recruit fresh talent, exploring non-traditional pathways and innovative ways to attract and retain diverse skills. To amplify our efforts, we are tapping into the apprenticeship levy, ensuring a magical transformation without additional budget constraints for both our entry-level and experienced workforce. And here is the grand finale: clear communication channels are materialising, aligning our data initiatives with the overarching business goals. Regular evaluations will be our compass, guiding us as we iterate on our data literacy strategy to ensure a spellbinding success story. Watch this space as we unfold the pages of this enchanting saga. 

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


As the newly appointed Chief Data Officer of Merlin Entertainments, I find myself at the helm of an exhilarating juncture in our data maturity journey, ready to script a transformative chapter in the company’s history. This moment is more than a milestone; it is a thrilling entry into a profound digital transformation that will redefine our business landscape. At this early stage of our data evolution, the potential is staggering. We envision not just enhancing guest and colleague experiences but revolutionising them through groundbreaking digital innovations. It is a strategic turning point, positioning Merlin Entertainments as a trailblazer in the industry. Our commitment to investing in data capabilities lays the groundwork for a future where every interaction, whether with our guests or within our internal operations, sparkles with technological brilliance. This shift toward becoming a digital business is not merely a necessity; it is a captivating adventure promising improved operational efficiency, personalised experiences, and a new era of enchanting entertainment. As the Chief Data Officer, I am fuelled with enthusiasm to contribute to Merlin Entertainments’ narrative as an industry trailblazer in the digital age. The future is an open canvas of limitless possibilities, and our data-centric approach is set to weave a tale of innovation, joy, and unparalleled digital experiences for our global visitors, delivering magical moments that resonate far beyond expectations. 

Kinnari Ladha
Kinnari Ladha
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2019 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2020 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)
  • No. 6 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)