Pee makes his mark as M&S hunts head of data science

M&Sn1Marks & Spencer has kick-started a search for a head of data science as chief digital and data officer Jeremy Pee starts to build his team as part of the retailer’s quest to become “fit for the digital age”.
However, much like its revived advertising strapline, it is not just any head of data science the firm is after, it wants “an M&S head of data science”, boasting a salary of up to £200,000 a year.
According to the job spec, the new recruit will be a senior leader in the business with responsibility for establishing the retailer’s data science vision and strategy. Responsibilities include introducing machine learning to several areas of the business, automating and generating new revenue opportunities, and embracing “cutting-edge data science and machine learning” techniques.
It requires designing a data science roadmap, implementing a culture of innovation, and contributing to the retailer’s data-driven goals.
Potential recruits must also have strong stakeholder management skills, a proven track record of building and leading high-performing teams of data scientists and researchers, and experience delivering successful and high-value data science initiatives within an organisation.
They will also be tasked with building a data science team of 15 to 20 people, and will report directly to the board.
Over the past year, M&S has splashed the cash in an effort to turn the business around. In January, it hired former Asda chief Andrew Mann to head up the retailer’s insight and loyalty strategy, and work closely with Starcount on its Sparks loyalty programme. Pee (pictured), who is the company’s first ever chief digital and data officer, joined the retailer a month earlier.
Meanwhile it has also 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.
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe has previously insisted that the firm wants data analysis “to become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand”. He added: “We need to change their digital behaviours, mindsets and our culture to make the business fit for the digital age.”

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