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Firas Khnaisser from DMA Scotland – The Value of Data

Hear Firas Khnaisser, Chairman of DMA Scotland, talk about the value of data.
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So my journey so far and in the world of data started off in Dubai, where I joined the direct marketing agency at the time. And quickly, I just realised that data’s an integral part of what I do and I need to, you know, have some kind of understanding about it. And things developed and as things developed, I moved into CRM, and that also had data within it, but I was always more on the kind of creative side of things rather than the data and tech side of things.
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I came to Scotland, became a filmmaker and then went back into into into marketing, which was really interesting because that kind of brought in different aspects to my career which I didn’t have before for example, how do you operate on a shoestring budget in filmmaking and trying to apply that in the in the marketing space. Then that kind of evolved into, okay, we want to try to do more clever stuff with our marketing. So could we talk about next best action at that point I was with Clydesdale Bank, and they wanted to leverage the data and the content to be able to create experiences with their customer, good experiences. And so I got heavily involved in that.
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Then I got offered the role at Standard Life. to head up the data team. I was totally out of my depth. I didn’t know anything about data. When when I don’t say anything, I knew something but I didn’t know that much. And it’s been four years now since I’ve been in the data role. I have always felt like a data imposter. Even though everybody around me says that’s absolutely not true. So, I think the key thing that I was asked at the point of the interview by my boss at the time was are you scared of data? And I said, No. And that’s what really triggered my data journey.
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And I think data like anything else is if you’re not scared to embrace it, and all the fundamentals of it apply, you know, don’t get taken away by the hype, and to just get stuck into it and try to understand more everyday as you work with it. And that’s really what kind of drove me into the world of data. When you’re presented with a leadership role is you need to focus on the leadership elements of it. And it’s always confusing to go into all the nitty gritty, especially when the nitty gritty, that you don’t really understand it. And so I couldn’t go into an in depth conversation with a data analyst about something which is super technical and super small.
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But I could have a conversation with the data analyst about, you know, what is it that they’re trying to achieve? How are they going to go about it? What is it that they’re, you know, what, what is it that they need for me to support them on? these kinds of conversations I could have. And I think that once you strip away all of the detail, I’m not saying the details aren’t important, the detail is the essence of the execution. But before you even move to execution, you need to have a fairly good idea about what it is that you’re trying to achieve.
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And I think whether you’re working in data or you’re working in marketing, or you’re working in finance, or whatever it is, if you don’t understand what it is that you’re trying to do, then it’s very hard to execute against it.
Firas Khnaisser works for Standard Life Aberdeen and is also Chairman of Data & Marketing Association (DMA) Scotland.
DMA seek to guide and inspire industry leaders; to advance careers; and to nurture the next generation of aspiring marketers:
“By working responsibly, sustainably and creatively, together we will drive the data and marketing industry forward to meet the needs of people today and tomorrow”.
Firas heads up the “Value of Data” initiative for the DMA. When I spoke with Firas I asked him if he could share some of his experiences and start to discuss how he leads teams.
I found it interesting to hear about “next best action” and its focus on achieving good outcomes for customers. I did smile as he talked about “data imposter” syndrome and how he overcame it. Two of the key takeaway points for me were:
Don’t be scared of the data… get started
Being absolutely clear on what value you want to achieve.
What did you take from the interview? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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