Meet the 'Top 2' IAPA Top 25 Analytic Leaders - 2018

#1: Matt Kuperholz - Chief Data Scientist, PwC

As the inaugural #1 ranked Analytics Leader, Chief Data Scientist Matt Kuperholz delivers analytics insights to the PwC organisation and PwC clients keen to improve business via analytics.

Originally an actuary and computer science graduate, Matt’s career has matured in line with the analytics profession. In the early days, his was considered a specialist technical skill unlikely to be a strategic part of management decision support. Over time data and analytics became seen as a competitive advantage for early adopters to today’s view of analytics as an invaluable business tool.

Through each of these eras Matt showed that evidence-based decisions powered by advanced analytics are more accurate, reliable and lower risk than the alternative. Matt has been a passionate and long-time advocate of data as an asset, teaching and proving to senior management the business advantages from the analytics insights derived from data.

“The analytic insights I have delivered over my career have consistently supported decisions which deliver the “free lunch” or “win-win” scenario only possible when continually extracting value from the unique non-consumable asset which is data,” said Kuperholz.

“Value includes happier customers and a more profitable business, safer and more engaged employees, more efficient and lower risk supply chains and operations.”

Previously recognised by the Knowledge Society and the Office of the Chief Scientist as one of the 100 on the cutting edge of innovation and science in Australia and contributing to Australia’s future economy including building the analytics talent pool.

“I am very proud to have been instrumental in developing the analytical skills and careers for 100’s of practitioners from their emergence from university to attaining senior ranks within my organisation and those of my clients,” commented Kuperholz.

But he’s not one for analytics without purpose.

“Whilst research analytics projects, or “analytics for analytics sake”, may have some intellectual benefit, I have for decades had a preference for leading analytics endeavours that focus on specific and measurable business outcomes - which should and are typically be related to efficiency, such as cost or other scare resource efficiency, or optimisation of revenue and /or profit,” stated Kuperholz.

As part of the senior team at PwC, Kuperholz is a strong advocate for analytics applied to “our own data, our clients data and data about the market and society to enable and support the six strategic pillars underpinning PwC’s purpose to “build trust in society and solve important problems”. This has reduced key person risk, delivery risk and financial risk of performing projects whilst increasing auditability, quality and repeatability.”

#2: Sandra Hogan - Group Head, Customer Analytics, Origin Energy

Building analytics teams that deliver actions and benefits to the business has been the hallmark of Sandra Hogan’s leadership style.

After gaining a clear understanding of overall business strategy and business unit key performance indicators, the Group Head, Customer Analytics at Origin Energy proactively develops an aligned data and analytics strategy that is endorsed by the CEO and socialised extensively with the leadership team for buy in and line management support.

“The Analytics team must understand the priorities of the organisation and be clear on how their outputs contribute to achieving those goals. They work with each stakeholder team to develop business use cases that ensure the analytics work is focused on a business problem, the scope and outcomes are agreed collectively upfront and measures are captured in advance and we have visibility of if and when benefits are realised,” said Hogan.

Highly developed soft skills allows Hogan to clearly articulate the value and gain support for leveraging analytics in key business decisions.

“I have strong communication skills and adapt my influencing style to decision makers which has been important in my success. I aim to understand how the decision maker will best receive the information, via numbers, a story or if they require something highly visual”

“In every role, my goal is to understand what the key business objectives are and then determine what analytics capability is needed to achieve those objectives. I focus my improvement efforts in four categories; people, process, data and technology,” stated Hogan.

The investment of time and training in people has delivered considerable value to the analytics team and organisation, including 3.5% improvements in model accuracy and stakeholder feedback increasing from 5/10 to 9/10.

Placing staff in key business units, like Marketing, allows analysts to become well versed in how to design a new campaign strategy and what analytical assets to embed, at what point in the process, and how to test the benefits. 

“We also found it extremely beneficial to the Marketing team as they developed a new appreciation on how to leverage the analytics into their existing processes and how to collaborate with the analytics to achieve better results,” stated Hogan.

Governance is also an important focus, developing a framework to provide the organisation with a check list of activities to ensure the deployment and use of any analytical based asset is done with integrity and collaboration. The framework covers direction (what is the vision, strategy and business priorities); design (what are the standards, processes and principles); and delivery (what are the outcomes, controls, support and service levels)

Sandra works with high school and university students to better understand what could be involved in a STEM career, mentoring, guiding and providing work experience for high school students – the analytics professionals of the future.

View the ranked 'Top 10' and overall 'Top 25' 2018 Analytics Leaders here