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Paul Hollands

Paul Hollands, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, UK&I, AXA

Describe your career to date


My career to date has had a common theme – I have been lucky enough to work with a string of very talented and committed people, with whom I have been able to build and deliver some fantastic innovations focused on business and customers. This includes transforming how a retail bank uses its data to personalise service and interactions; to building a far more sophisticated approach to understanding and driving client interactions in a commercial bank. During my time at NatWest, I ran the bank’s £100m data transformation programme, launching the NatWest Data Academy and delivering a number of category-leading data capabilities.
Moving to insurance and Hastings gave me a different and faster paced environment to operate in. There, I led a massive data transformation, significantly upgrading the organisation’s capabilities and creating meaningful value opportunity for the business. 


My current role is leading data across UK and Ireland at AXA. With data and artificial intelligence (AI) at the heart of the business strategy for the next five years, my role in putting value front and centre in what we do is a critical part of ensuring the data teams across the UK are leading in helping both our business and customers succeed.

Data literacy is a key enabler of the value and impact from data. How are you approaching this within your organisation?


At AXA we are shifting our focus on the skills that will help our colleagues, customers and the wider business succeed. By focusing on the technical and non-technical skills, we are building an employee proposition to help both data teams and the wider organisation thrive in an environment where data and AI are more prevalent.


How will we do this? We are launching a Data Academy for the UK and Ireland business, which will focus on building deep skills and expertise in our data teams. The programme will also help our wider business stakeholders understand the opportunities that AI present to drive their strategy and enable people to reskill, helping them apply their business expertise into more technical roles.


An example of this is a generative AI (genAI) for all initiative. With the rollout of Secure-GPT (AXA’s secure version of ChatGPT), we have started offering training for all staff so they can better understand large language models (LLM): the opportunities, the pitfalls, the role of prompts, and how to effectively structure them to help our teams use SecureGPT effectively in their daily jobs.

How are you preparing your organisation for AI adoption and change management? 


Machine Learning models, along with RPA, are already well adopted in AXA. 


However, the emergence of genAI and the opportunity to incorporate other areas of AI, such as computer vision into, for example, our claims models, means we need to think differently about how we operate with AI at scale. 


How are we doing this? I mentioned the significant investment we are making in training all staff around genAI and the broader applications of AI. The launch of the AXA Data Academy will underline our commitment to continuously develop our teams and their understanding of AI. 


The launch of AXA’s SecureGPT solves one of the biggest challenges we are facing with open LLMs – privacy. The ability to integrate this with our own data and with other tools, gives us a great opportunity to embed LLMs into our operational processes. We already have one application using genAI in our retail call centre: helping front line colleagues answer customer queries quickly and with more consistency. We are also learning more about how colleagues interact with these tools, so we can learn how to scale similar innovations elsewhere. 


We are also investing in our underlying platforms. As our platforms move from supporting data activities to being integral to operational processes, we are ensuring that our data pipelines have the right monitoring in place. 


Our work building our AI framework is a key step forward in providing the guardrails and ethical guidelines for the business, with a set of processes that promote innovation and exploration with data and AI, while making it easy for colleagues to understand how they can do this safely and ethically.

Paul Hollands
Paul Hollands
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)