La Rentrée

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Every September in France, summer-weary parents pack their children off to school for la rentrée (‘the return’) and return to work after the idleness of August. The break from the métro, boulot, dodo routine of daily life enables both students and their parents to throw themselves back into their work and studies with renewed vigor.

My own rentrée has been a little longer in coming this year: I left Microsoft back in the summer, seeking to apply what I’ve learned in almost twenty years of data and analytics roles to a new challenge. I’ve spent the last six months having many fascinating conversations with my peers in the technology and marketing industries about the future of people-centric marketing, the impact of AI on creativity, the changing relationship of individuals with their data, and the evolution of job roles and skills in the analytics industry.

I’d always rather fancied working in the creative environment of the advertising agency space, but was looking for somewhere where a commitment to investing in data, technology and analytics talent was a strategic priority, as it had been in my last role at Microsoft. Were the big holding companies really committed to transforming their businesses around data-centric capabilities and insights?

Fortunately, I discovered that at Publicis Groupe, the answer is a resounding yes. Publicis Groupe is in the midst of a huge transformation of its business, a little like the ‘One Microsoft’ changes that Steve Ballmer initiated around five years ago, with data and analytics at its heart. Publicis Spine, led by Lisa Donohue, is a relatively new organization that exists to help clients unlock insights about their audience and customers, by providing a set of core data and platform capabilities and partnering with the 3,500 analysts and Data Scientists across the Groupe. In my conversations with Lisa and her team I’ve been enormously impressed by their ambition to transform the relationship that Publicis has with its clients across the world through the creative use of data.

So I’m delighted to be joining the Publicis Spine team as Chief Data Officer. I’ll be focusing on driving the overarching data strategy within Publicis Spine, as well as helping global Publicis agency teams to take advantage of the data assets that that the team is building, grow their own skills, and learn from their peers around the world. To say that I am excited about this role is something of an understatement; opportunities like this, to build something new at the heart of a huge global organization, don’t come along very often. The coming months and years at Publicis will be full of adventure and discovery. I’m glad I got some rest!

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