by Craig Paterson, Executive Education Advisor, The Data Lab
The Data Lab hosted our second Executive Away Day earlier this month in the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. It all started with a welcome dinner, which was followed by a day of insightful presentations and discussions.
Over dinner, we heard some fascinating stories about people’s personal experiences and practical advice on driving value from data. Hannah Fry was our captivating after dinner speaker who got us all thinking about how data affects us every day. The conversion went on long into the night and it was an excellent way to warm our brains up for the next day.
The Away Day presenters continued the trend set by Hannah with a series of enlightening and entertaining insights. Mark Priestly, F1 commentator and guru, shared the journey he went on with McLaren as they embedded data scientists into the team and how that changed the way decisions were made. I can’t do justice to the way he presented the material, so clear your diaries for DataFest next March, when both Hannah and Mark will be back in Scotland.
Our next two speakers were Steve Coates from Brainnwave and Inez Hogarth for brightsolid. Both Steve and Inez shared their experiences in a start-up and in an established company respectively, on the value that data scientists can bring to organisations. It was great to see the passion they had for investing in people and setting them up for success working in partnership with businesses. I highly recommend getting along to any event that you see Inez or Steve speaking at so that you can hear their experiences first-hand and, more importantly, get a chance to engage them in conversation.
Our last two speakers were two people I have had the privilege to work with in previous roles. Chris Martin from Waracle and Callum Morton from NCR both spoke about the role data plays in their companies. Chris is a fascinating speaker and raised many superb points including the fact that data is not a silver bullet, it is just one of the many things you need to master to create an environment for customer innovation. Callum brought to life the sweet spot between a compelling strategy and rapid execution. I was great to listen to Callum share his experiences and his views on the future. Specially powerful was the fact that only 9 months ago Callum was sitting in the audience at our last Executive Away Day, and now here he was leading the conversation based upon real world experiences.
I also gave a short talk on Data as a strategic differentiator as part of opening the second day. I was delighted and relieved to hear some of the points I raised brought to life by our excellent speakers. But best of all for me was the feedback we got on the day from attendees who found it engaging, practical and enjoyable. Most people I spoke to said that the speakers had stimulated their thought processes and that they were returning to work enthused, armed with practical advice and with a much richer network. As Gillian our CEO said, the attendees are all now part of The Data Lab gang and we will be there to support them as they continue on their own data journeys.