Everyone knows that the devil is in the detail when it comes to marketing and media and no one knows that better than the industry’s data scientists. Long the unsung heroes, these industry experts used to work purely behind the scenes and give everyone the information they sorely need to win the next pitch.
But adland is changing and marketers are becoming just as accustomed to looking at spreadsheets with reams of data and unpicking algorithms to make sure the next campaign hits just right. Now, more than ever, Data Scientists are the holders of truth and the shoulders that the best in the biz stand on.
To come to our final list, we plumbed the depths of the biggest industry brains (a big thank you to them) and revisited our brilliant Women Leading Tech awards from March.
We’ve already had our 10 best Creatives, Executive Leaders for Creative and Media agencies, Content Producers and Industry Entrepreneurs, check those out if you haven’t already. In the coming weeks and months, we will reveal the best of the best in the following disciplines: Commercial Director – Creative, Recruiter, Film Director, Public Relations, Strategist – Creative, Technologist, Consultant, Strategist – Media, Project Manager, Mentor, Media Director, Developer, Casting Director, Industry Association Chief, Experiential Producer, Social Change Maker, Journalist, HR, Planning Director – Media and Marketer.
But, without any further ado, here are the Best of the Best Data Scientists, Presented By Finecast, part of GroupM Nexus from 10 to one…
10) Ramee Elshabasei
Lead Data Scientist, Mutinex
Mutinex is a business that lives and dies on the quality of its data with the company’s GrowthOS allowing brands to gain a real understanding of the value of their brand and measure the impact of macroeconomic conditions on their decision-making. Elshabasei, then, has one of the most important roles within the fledgling business determined to put reliable numbers at the heart of marketing. Clearly, Elshabasei’s work is having an impact with the likes of dentsu and Atomic 212° joining with the startup to implement its tech. With Elshabasei’s experience at Finder, Experian and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment it certainly seems as though Mutinex has the right man for the job.
9) Melanie Wuong Sze Shien
Vice President, Data Science, Quantium
Quantium features heavily in this list, whether on its own or as part of wiq and Shien is a big reason for that success. During her time at Quanitum, Shien has led a data science team building solutions across a huge range of solutions and has worked on projects that required her to take on multiple roles, adding delivery manager and stakeholder consultant to her work as a Data Scientist. But Shien has also found time to volunteer for the NWA Foodbank and put her skills and experience to work to help the charity serve those in need.
8) Ram Radhakrishnan
Director, Advanced Analytics, wiq
With almost 15 years within the Woolworths Group under his belt, the things that Radhakrishnan does not know about data science and its applications in marketing are simply not worth knowing. Now as the director of advanced analytics at wiq, Radhakrishnan leads a team of data scientists and data engineers to realise best-in-class data science for the grocer. Of course, Radhakrishnan’s work doesn’t end there, he also serves as a thought leader in the business and seeks to find new ways to improve Woolies operations and disseminating a best-in-class data science-driven culture.
7) Rachel Kennedy
Associate Director of Product Development, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Recognised as one of advertising’s big thinkers, Kennedy has helped put data science on the map as a founding member of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. In her work at the institute, she has crunched the numbers across a wide variety of fields including research into buyer behaviour and validations of different measurement tools to create better, more actionable marketing for leading brands. When not at her desk and knee-deep in a spreadsheet, Kennedy has won a number of awards for her work, spoken at global events for Cannes Lions, ARF and the WARC and published a number of peer-reviewed advertising works. Remember, we all have the same 24 hours in a day.
6) Sam Stark
Head of Data Science & Analytics, Endeavour Group
Recently promoted from the head of analytics, Stark’s work with Endeavour Group has led the business from strength to strength with his relentless focus on using analytics to improve the Group’s operational efficiency, as well as bringing together different strands of the business for a single, all-encompassing view of the customer. What’s more, Stark has been working to make sure that the IT operations he’s putting in place will give Endeavour a “flexible, scalable and future‑focused technology platform.” Plus, with a serious grounding with some of the biggest agencies and tech companies in Australia, Stark has all the know-how and experience to make sure his every endeavour leads to success. We’ll drink to that.
5) Dr John Hawkins
Chief Scientist, Playground XYZ
For anyone not entirely au fait with the world of data science, Hawkins’ CV would be enough to leave their brains permanently scrambled. Following his PhD in computer science, Hawkins has spent the last 18 years applying machine learning, statistics and other data mining to different types of data. Now working at Playground XYZ, Hawkins is leading a team developing machine learning systems to predict and optimise consumer attention. He’s also found time to write multiple open-source Python packages, published peer-reviewed academic research in journals, spoken at conferences and he’s even written a book.
4) Rachel Scott
Manager, Marketing Science, Suncorp
Scott has spent almost 15 years working at Suncorp and has risen through the ranks from a customer analytics specialist to now heading up a team of dedicated marketing data scientists. Under Scott’s leadership, the team applies data science to guide marketing investment. She also leads a team that builds predictive modelling capabilities to spot opportunities to grow return on investment. There are few in the country applying data science to marketing with such rigour and impact.
3) Dr Juan Franco
APAC Chief Analytics Officer, GroupM
Franco is a big but mainly behind-the-scenes part of GroupM’s success. Promoted three months ago from chief science and analytics officer & head of mPlatform Australia to the media buying group’s overall analytics boss for the APAC region, Franco has been working within the GroupM set-up for more than a decade. During that time, Franco has pioneered new attribution techniques to measure the effectiveness and success of client campaigns and continues to push the media investment arm of WPP forwards.
2) Tatia Rashid
Executive Manager, Quantium
Rashid won the Data Science category at this year’s Women Leading Tech event and, in our view, that’s as good a reason as any to be second on this list.
In her work at Quantium, she has led some of the business’ most complex workstreams and delivered actionable, insightful insights on huge projects for client Woolworths. She also puts her data smarts to work for the International Justice Mission’s Scale of Harm project which seeks to combat child trafficking. What’s more, Rashid is the lead for Women in STEM at Quantium, where she employs data insights to support gender equality strategies on technical career pathways and events that champion female talent. With female representation a continual challenge in technical fields, Rashid is a shining light of hope in the industry.
1) Professor Dr Karen Nelson-Field
Founder & CEO, Amplified Intelligence
It had to be, didn’t it?
Nelson-Field is one of the most important minds in the world of marketing and is on a mission to fix what she sees as a broken media ecosystem. At its heart, advertising is a battle for attention and eyeballs and with her work as the founder and CEO of Amplified Intelligence, Nelson-Field has been working to get that core tenet of advertising back on the agenda in an empirical, measurable way and to cast aside the borked and misleading metrics so often employed. She is also one of the most accomplished speakers in the industry, being able to share complex ideas and dispel long-held misgivings with brevity and boldness, as the audience at her recent keynote speech at Cannes in Cairns will attest to.
What’s more, companies ranging from US cinema advertising firm Screenvision to Snapchat are starting to put Nelson-Field’s work into action. If you haven’t already, you should be paying attention to Nelson-Field and Amplified Intelligence.
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