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Mehul Shah, Interim Chief Data Officer, Guardian News & Media

Describe your career to date 

After graduating with a computer science degree in Australia, I started my career building a new data products suite, which has helped our client organisation to proactively monitor the health of their data assets. This data-driven product development experience at an early stage of my career really helped me to relentlessly focus on identifying value opportunities using data.


Over the following 20 years, I held various data roles across media, insurance and electronics sectors around the globe. It was quite fulfilling to be part of some amazing data journeys which had enabled successful transformation of these organisations. Few key milestones I will always cherish are; when Acer became number two laptop vendor in the world; when The Times newspaper turned profitable after over a decade of losses; when BNP Paribas UK Insurance business turned around to secure a prestigious B2B partnership after nearly collapsing due to PPI losses; and finally, being listed in Data IQ 100 for the past three years.


In 2021, I joined The Guardian as director of data because I’ve always admired The Guardian brand, its progressive perspective, global reach, and unique ownership structure.


The Guardian has a global reputation for holding power to account, so it is quite important to develop a financially sustainable future supported by its readers. Last year, we reached a great milestone of having more than 1 million supporters and double-digit revenue growth. I am quite proud to be part of this data journey to build a loyal relationship with our readers and help build a sustainable future for The Guardian.

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

We have the built amazing foundational capabilities and are able to create descriptive, diagnostic, predictive insights. But globally, at organisation level, the maturity still varies across business functions and we are moving up the maturity curve for each area at an agreed and suitable pace.


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

Our data and insight team has around 50 people, with a wide range of skills and experience. We are all located in our London office and have the hybrid working practices to provide the team with the flexibility it needs to be most efficient.


Depending on the role, some individuals may sit within the various business functions to improve alignment with business needs, while others sit with their peers to share best practice and to encourage more knowledge sharing

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? 

Apart from the macro-economic environment and cyber security challenges which every organisation will be facing, I think the challenges for most organisation will shift from low hanging value creation to more complex strategic value creation.


In media organisations, to do that there should be two main ingredients. First, building transparent and trusted relationships with their customers who need to have control over their data; and, second, creating competitive advantage using their rich first-party data.


The other very interesting challenge will be to understand the use cases for generative AI, especially with capabilities like ChatGPT, Dall-E etc and building the ethical AI framework.

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? 

Our data vision has twin aims. First, everyone across the organisation globally should have the insight they need to make better and quicker decisions. Second, our readers should have trust that any data they share with us will be used in a well-governed and ethical way across the organisation.


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

Over the last couple of years, we have been focusing on building the foundational capabilities, including building data assets with governance by design, creating the standards and policies on how to manage our data, and building data communities to focus on the data quality. We will continue to build on these strong foundations and keep adding new data capabilities with the aim of improving availability and trust in the data across the organisation.


Mehul Shah
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)