M&S appoints Meta man as new chief data scientist

Russell JohnsonMarks & Spencer has appointed a new chief data scientist following a shake-up of its senior team which has seen chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee promoted to chief digital and technology officer after four years in the role.

Russell Johnson takes up the job after spending the past five years at Facebook and Meta, most recently as global head of strategy, planning and operations at Meta Reality Labs B2B.

Prior to that, he held a number of senior leadership roles at LivePerson, Cardlytics, JDA Software and Shell and describes himself as a “data science and strategy leader, who is passionate about customers and focused on outcomes”.

M&S said Johnson has been briefed to “build out our data science capabilities as we continue to turbocharge the digital transformation of our business”. Pee posted on LinkedIn: “Excited to have you onboard Russell Johnson. Big things ahead.”

The move follows M&S co-chief executive Katie Bickerstaffe “resetting” her team to build on omnichannel momentum and create what she has described as “a more compelling customer ecosystem”.

Bickerstaffe, who through the MS2 initiative brought together data, digital, technology and ecommerce staff to drive online growth and profitability, has reshaped the senior team to deliver better customer insight and a better customer experience.

The reshuffle, initiated last month, was designed to help to get customers to “shop with us more often, spend more with us when they do and stay in our ‘ecosystem’”, Bickerstaffe wrote in an internal email.

As well as Pee’s promotion, M&S.com director Stephen Langford became director of online and omnichannel. Chief technology officer Mike Yorweth will leave the retailer at the end of the financial year.

The new emphasis will be on building and maintaining the membership of the Sparks loyalty scheme and driving traffic to the M&S app. The Sparks team, along with the bank and services team, will move across to the new M&S Connect team.

The customer growth team, which is focused on digital and personalised marketing, will merge with the ecommerce team to “create the new online and omnichannel function”.

Changes to the digital team will simplify operations and bring together the retailer’s data scientists, technology team and digital product colleagues, Bickerstaffe said.

“This brings together the capabilities and skills we need to become a world-class omnichannel retailer with data at the heart. What has got us here won’t get us there, we have to build on what we have done and keep making progress at pace. We are making some organisational changes to accelerate our plans.”

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