Career Spotlight – Tom Clements, Head of Data Science, Leisure Pass Group
TrueNorth’s “Career Spotlight” series explores career paths within Data Science and Artificial Intelligence industries, sharing insight from the professionals within our network.
What has been the highlight of your working career to date?
I have been fortunate enough to be involved with some amazing projects across several companies, all of which have taught me plenty and given me a great deal of satisfaction, but the highlight of my working career to date has been leading my current team at LPG on a customer personalisation project.
This has presented many a challenge, from working with stakeholders from across the business with different needs, to challenges with missing data and the implications from that, but despite this, we have managed to deliver some invaluable insights on our customers to the business which has changed the way we engage with our customers right throughout the customer journey and delivered strong commercial performance, despite the slight curveball the Coronavirus has thrown us, and leading on this from a strategic perspective has given me the greatest satisfaction of all.
How have been the most important mentors in your career to date, and what have they taught you?
I have been fortunate enough to have two great mentors. My first mentor is my first boss, who taught me the value of combining rigorous analysis with the ability to provide clear and concise explanations of your findings to your audience.
Old habits die hard, and if you simply send across a key insight and expect this to have cut-through, more often than not you will be unpleasantly surprised.
My second mentor I am lucky enough to have is a family friend back in Australia, who provides me with guidance on how to lead, motivate, and get the best out of those who you manage and work alongside. Ensuring I am developing both the functional and technical sides of my skill set is super important, and having a good mentor(s) is key to this.
What are the most exciting trends in the market at the moment?
I am not making any headlines when I say that data science is a space that is moving at a million miles a minute, with so much new data coming available every day.
This means that there are exciting trends and insights almost every week!
Having said that, I think the most exciting trend in the market at the moment will come in the next few quarters around the world, and that is, just how the world recovers on the back of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Clearly, data science will play a key role in assisting companies across all sectors, but certainly in the travel industry, drive growth in a post-covid world.
What’s the one key tip you’d share with people looking to build a career in Data?
Clearly having the technical skills underpins what makes a good data scientist, but the biggest tip I would give junior data scientists is to think beyond the technical side of your skillset, and ensure that you are coupling that with thinking about the commercial value/implications your insights can have.
This will not only make you stand out to your colleagues as a great value-add data scientist, but it will also help you build a curious mind, which will lead you to unlocking insights that others may simply not be able to see.
What factors have you found most important when remote working?
As data scientists, we are very fortunate to be in a position where remote working does not pose too many barriers to being just as effective at home as we are in the office.
The key factor to successfully working from home I have found is ensuring lines of communication are as open as possible between all key stakeholders, to ensure idea sharing is maintained whilst not being able to meet face-to-face.
How have you found maintaining ‘team and company culture’ whilst working remotely?
I alluded to this above, but one fundamental to maintaining company culture is constant communication, and not just talking shop!
Making sure you are asking about the welfare of your colleagues and team, ensuring they are in a good mindset, an essential component needed to produce quality work.
What is your top tip for companies currently going through substantial digital transformation?
One of the common things I have seen in my career when companies undergo a digital transformation is that there is often a disconnect in objectives between key stakeholders across verticals.
My top tip is ensuring stakeholders from all verticals are given the opportunity to give their needs and objectives from the transformation to ensure the transformation has long-lasting buy-in and ultimately, success within an organisation.
From a data science perspective, one of the key priorities in a transformation is ensuring data structures within the organisation to which we rely so heavily upon are constructed in a manner that enables quick and simple delivery of key insights.
Unstructured data, missing data, incomplete data, are so often byproducts of inefficient transformations, and all that leads to is inefficient data analysis and therefore lower quality delivery of insights.
So make sure you are involved in transformation strategy from the start!
What do you think has the potential to disrupt your sector in the next 10 years?
Unfortunately, we are living through the biggest threat to our sector right now, a global health pandemic.
Quite clearly the pandemic has caused tourism and travel to come to a grinding halt. This will undoubtedly change the way we, and many other companies in the sector, do business.
The biggest challenge facing us will be how we adapt to this, what changes we make to our business model, and how we diversify our product offering, in order to remain competitive, and hopefully, ensure that the next time we are struck by a global travel disruption of this kind, we are in a better position to cope with it.