Data & Analytics

Data Leaders – 6 reasons to get out of your head

  • 13 May 2020

Success Hack: Name a highly inspirational or successful person and I guarantee you they either had a great mentor and/or are a mentor themselves. If you Google it, the list of people recommending mentorship reads like a who’s who of success.

So why are so few of us tapping into this invaluable resource? Especially in the complex and fast changing world of data and AI.

Highly skilled leaders do benefit from having an independent mentor alongside them, who will pose the awkward questions and bring data experience to bear in driving out the best possible outcomes. A good leader paired with an impartial, experienced and engaged mentor can make an enormous difference and is often a strong indicator of future success.

Some people reject mentorship out of hand, whilst others embrace gurus and personal development as if drinking from life’s well itself. “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey. Too much?

However, with such a proven method for replicating success, we should at the very least explore the idea of mentorship.


Global Covid-19 story;

We are mentoring a Head of Data / Data Science at a retail e-commerce site. The company is doing well, even in the current circumstances, as the trend towards online shopping continues and accelerates. The Execs are applying huge pressure to make significant data driven decisions about consumer trends to increase customer retention and sales.

The problem is that in the last 2 months the data has changed beyond recognition. The resulting challenge is that “the models aren’t reflecting reality anymore”. The initial reaction was to abandon the data and revert to old fashioned expert opinion. A familiar, understandable, but fear based decision. As part of the mentoring process, the Head was challenged to be bold in addressing the current issues and desired goals and rethink how to close the gaps between the two.

With high numbers of monthly visitors to their site, the company has always been completely focused on their own internal click and social data. With our mentoring, discussions changed direction and turned to the wider global picture and the data available from parts of the world which are 2 months ahead of the UK on the pandemic curve. Data from the parts of Asia that most resemble the markets in the West (Singapore for example) could provide accurate information about consumer behaviour in similar circumstances. This conversation lead to rapid research and acquisition of external data to start adjusting the predictive models.

The insight, realisation and subsequent actions that resulted from our discussions saved hours, days or weeks of less effective toil and potentially a small fortune in lost revenue and opportunity. Undoubtedly, without our mentorship the Head would have missed an opportunity and fallen back on what the business had always done. Instead, he pivoted to learn from other markets and the business will benefit in the longer term from use of external data to cast a wider data net and a more open mindset.


6 Success Indicators;

What should you look for and expect from a mentor, particular a data mentor;

  1. Mentoring requires rapport. The starting point is being authentic and relationship-based. For real mentorship to succeed, there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee.
  2. The generic advice you’ll get from online publications will only go so far, and a good data mentor will home in on where you can add real value from data that you can make relevant to your business.
  3. Everybody needs a good reliable sounding board, second opinion, and sometimes just emotional support when the times get tough … and it doesn’t get much tougher in data than the Covid-19 crisis. A mentor provides this in an honest and non-judgemental way.
  4. Great mentors can have an enormous impact on new ventures, ideas and initiatives. Their experiences can save people from making the same expensive mistakes that they’ve already made. That’s especially true for costly data projects.
  5. The best mentors are those who ask a lot of tough questions, challenge you to extend your ambitions and uncover new opportunities.
  6. But great mentors shouldn’t tell you exactly what to do. They understand their role as an advisor and that it’s your business, not theirs.



Live 1:1 data mentorship webinar event information


  • Data & Analytics