Saga appoints Camelot boss as first chief data officer

saga this one 2Over 50s specialist Saga is continuing to try to shake off its fuddy-duddy image and reinvent itself “superbrand for older people” by appointing its first chief data officer, drafting in former Camelot executive Michael O’Donohue to take up the role.

O’Donohue joins early next month from the National Lottery operator, where he has also served as CDO since April 2016 and has been responsible for leading the transformation of the firm into a data-driven business. He is a member of the executive team, reporting directly to chief executive Nigel Railton.

Prior to Camelot, O’Donohue spent three years as director of insight and data at Centrica-owned British Gas, where he was responsible for customer strategy, insight, campaign decisioning, data strategy and management.

michael o'donohueBefore that, he worked at Tesco for nearly six years, in a number of marketing roles, including responsibility for customer insight and pricing and promotions. O’Donohue (pictured) also spent six years as a consultant at McKinsey.

The appointment comes six months after Saga acquired consumer psychology and insight consultancy the Big Window Consultancy, which focuses on ageing. It now act as Saga’s in-house ‘knowledge agency’, creating points of difference for customers across travel, insurance and personal finance, as well as Saga Magazine and online content.

The move is key to Saga’s wider data, digital and brand strategy, which champions what Saga is calling “Generation Experience” – the discerning, sharp and savvy people over 50 who bring a wealth of vibrant life experience to society and represent over a third of the UK population. The strategy is being backed by a major marketing and advertising campaign (main picture), devised by VCCP London, that was launched in October last year.

O’Donohue is one of three senior hires designed to bolster Saga growth strategy and positioning as the leading UK specialist for people over 50.

In addition, Anand Aithal has become an independent non-executive director. Currently lead non-executive board member for the UK Cabinet Office, he also co-founded a data analytics business that was later acquired by Moody’s and served as managing director at Goldman Sachs.

Meanwhile, Ian Simkins has been named the chair of Saga’s subsidiary Cruise Board, joining from luxury villa specialist The Thinking Traveller and Inside Travel Group. He was also the CEO of Audley Travel, and has held senior positions at Tesco, TUI, British Airways and Thomson Holidays.

Saga non-executive chairman Roger De Haan said: “I am delighted to welcome Anand, Michael and Ian to Saga. I look forward to working with them as we focus on delivering the next phase of our growth strategy.

“They each bring extensive and relevant experience and expertise to the Group at a time when the business is being reshaped towards a greater focus on marketing, content and distribution.”

Saga chief executive Euan Sutherland added: “I look forward to working with all three of the new appointees as we focus on delivering long-term, sustainable growth in the interests of all our stakeholders.

“Their wide-ranging specialisms further strengthen the group’s skillset at a time when we are rolling out our growth strategy and building Saga into the superbrand for older people.”

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