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Richard Gregory, CDO, Head of Data Transformation, Imperial Brands

Describe your career to date 

I continue to work with some fantastic organisations and some incredible people. The cross-industry experience of global consumer goods, telco, banking and energy have all brought their unique challenges and learning opportunities, at the same time all presented a common set of capability aspirations. 


How do we get hold of the data we most care about – when we need it and of a known quality… alongside this… how do we use it to drive value, grow our business and keep us and our consumers safe? 


Underpinning this with a requirement to develop and grow a rewarding employee proposition, attracting and retaining talented people in a market where demand for what we do is at an all-time high.


A combination of some very long tenures alongside a mix of shorter consulting assignments has seen me develop, run and optimise data and analytics functions for some of the largest and most complex companies in the world. I feel privileged to have experienced such a rewarding career to date.

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

I only recently joined but it is clear “ambition matters” here and we have ambition in bucket loads. We are an established company with a large global footprint and we are already doing fantastic things in many parts of the world. It’s far reaching; across the full supply chain right through to societal, ethical and environmental matters and, crucially, our customers and consumers who are at the heart of everything we do. 


Work is underway to complete further modernisation and digitisation, across the full data “create to consume” lifecycle, covering both operational processes and analytical landscapes. My role is to surface best practice, deliver innovation and drive adoption which really makes a difference. 


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

In my experience overall accountability for the data and analytics agenda usually sits with either the CFO, CIO or COO. Like many large organisations we work within a matrix structure with different elements anchored in different parts of the organisation, brought together through pragmatic governance fora. Our teams are diverse and sit across a number of geographies, linked to a location strategy which ensures we remain relevant to a given line of business or market. What is critical is that the topic is defined as a professional capability with defined roles, a job family and a clear articulation of how you progress your career in this exciting field. 

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? 

Keeping up with our creative business colleagues and collaborating to deliver well. We have a culture of curiosity and experimentation; we dream big and take ownership. All of this is encouraged by our executive team which makes this an exciting thing to be part of.


Alongside the classical economic drivers of the need for good data and insight comes a growing focus on environment, societal and ethical themes; something which I have seen elevated in the last decade across a number of industry verticals.

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? 

Despite our size and scale, we are the smallest of the major international companies in our industry – and this means we can get close to our consumers, innovate fast and spot value overlooked by larger competitors. Data and analytics has a significant role to play and is a group-wide focus. We have set out a clear ambition for data at both group and functional level, our pursuit of delivery is relentless and our people are unstoppable.


Our challenger approach influences everything we do. We are always challenging ourselves to do better. And we are challenging on behalf of our consumers to provide them with better choices.


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

I know through my cross-industry experience and many years working in this space that this is a long journey, requiring resilience, belief and importantly a well-structured and communicated approach. 


Our approach is necessarily multi-faceted and considers six enabling capability areas which focus on two themes: “Defensive”, optimising foundational aspects, which drive good quality data from the point of creation, through to “Offensive” which enables creative and ethical use of data-fuelled analytics to drive efficiency, understand the market and, importantly, to meet the needs of our consumers.

Richard Gregory
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)