M&S hires Group M chief as first head of data science

M&S Hosseini2Marks & Spencer has switched agency-side to find its first ever head of data science – following a search which kicked off in April this year – as the retailer continues to build its senior team in an effort to put data and digital at the heart of its business.

Mehdi Hosseini takes up the role with immediate effect, joining from Group M. He has been at the WPP agency for over three-and-a-half years, most recently as vice president of data science and product for the “M Platform”, the global tech suite which was launched in 2016.

Priot to that, Hosseini set up Sky’s first data science function, and led a number of machine learning products across multiple business areas such as SkyQ, SkyGo, and NowTV. He has also held a number of research posts at Cambridge University and Microsoft.

Hosseini will oversee a team of 20 data professionals, who are currently being recruited. He will report to chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee, who joined from Canadian grocer Loblaw at the end of last year, and is spearheading the retailer’s data and digital overhaul.

M&S claims to have 7 million Sparks members, 11 million online shoppers, and 1 million customers who use its joint venture with online grocer Ocado.

Hosseini is the latest in a raft of new recruits; last month it hired former Tesco Clubcard director Danielle Papagapiou to breathe new life into it Sparks scheme as head of loyalty, while former Asda chief Andrew Mann was appointed earlier this year to head up the retailer’s insight strategy.

The retailer also works with Starcount, the company run by DunnHumby co-founders Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby. In addition, M&S has set up a strategic artificial intelligence partnership with Microsoft, launched the data science academy in partnership with Decoded, expanded its partnership with predictive analytics specialist First Insight and launched a start-up incubator programme alongside Founders Factory.

Pee said: “Becoming a digital first business is core to our transformation and as part of this we are looking to build a new, world-class, data science capability that can be deployed to create value across the business. I am delighted that Mehdi, who comes with extensive experience, has joined M&S to build and scale this new team.”

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