M&S hunts for chief to head up new data science team

M&SMarks & Spencer is continuing to build its data science capability – despite the Covid-19 lockdown – by kicking off the search for a lead data science manager, who will take charge of the retailer’s growing team and work across all business units.

The role reports into head of data science Mehdi Hosseini, who joined M&S in October last year from Group M. He in turn reports to chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee, who switched from Canadian grocer Loblaw in 2018.

M&S is in the process of recruiting a team of 20 data professionals; the new manager will lead them to “prioritise and solve real-life business problems, to enable M&S to grow and better serve its customer base”, according to the job ad.

The company said: “Within the data science function at M&S we build end-to-end data science and machine learning solutions in retail and help our business units such as Food, Clothing and Home, Fashion, Marketing, Loyalty, Supply Chain, Growth, Customer Services etc to drive value from data and create personalised experiences for our customers.

“We apply state of the art machine learning techniques to solve variety of problems such as outfit recommendation for our fashion programme, personalised offers for our loyalty programme, logistics cost minimisation or demand forecasting for our supply chain management, product waste management for our retail unit, and AI powered campaigns for our marketing are only a few examples.”

The successful candidate will have to have “significant experience landing data science capability, applying most effective statistical and machine learning models on real world commercial problems and having measured business benefits”, as well as a PhD or MSc in a numerate subject.

The retailer’s data-driven strategy has been a long time coming – it first started on this path back in 2011 – and it is certainly not coming cheap; in 2012 alone it spent a whopping £100m overhauling its website.

As well as Hosseini and Pee, last year M&S 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 in 2019 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.

Back in 2017, chief executive Steve Rowe said data analysis was set “to become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand”.

Related stories
M&S hires Group M chief as first head of data science
M&S hires ex-Clubcard chief for Sparks card revival
Andrew Mann joins M&S as head of insight and loyalty
M&S drafts in first ever chief digital and data officer
M&S ploughs £100m into website
M&S plots ecommerce shake-up
M&S overhauls data strategy

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