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Top 100 Data Innovator: BBC StoryWorks - BBC Global News’ Harleen Thethy

Harleen Thethy, Head of Analytics at BBC Global News brand BBC StoryWorks, shares how the news publisher’s analytics strategy matured in 2021, her views on analytics leadership and her top priority for 2022 

What would you say have been your greatest achievements at BBC Global News over the past 12-24 months?

A few years ago, BBC Global News created an initiative to help local youth into employment by collaborating with local schools and charities to find candidates suitable for internships and training. 

During the height of COVID-19, an intern joined my team, who didn’t come from a data background and had to learn to navigate not only a new company, team and role, but had to do so entirely remotely. She managed to learn and grow at such a pace that she’s now an analyst in my team. 

I genuinely think our successes are reflected in our team. Seeing the passion and enthusiasm coming from my team is so rewarding. It’s important to remember that not all successes are about improving or resolving your day-to-day business issues. The current climate has taught me to step back and reassess the social or charitable involvement that I’ve partaken in my career.  

So, although I have had many proud data-related moments throughout my career, being involved in this initiative to provide employment opportunities that may not be as easily available, particularly in STEM roles, is one that stands out to me among my proudest moments. 

How is data and analytics leadership evolving? And what role should these executives play in a modern organization?

With data and analytics being one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, we’re seeing organizations becoming increasingly reliant on data to make business decisions, as most industries strive to become more data-led. 

I think a crucial part for leaders in this industry is being able to successfully collaborate with stakeholders and understand the specific role their team plays in achieving the end goal for the business. 

In a modern organization, data leaders would play a key part in binding together the data and business strategy. I think strategies need to be defined by the data. So, it’s important to have data-centric leaders who encompass data and formulate a narrative with it.

What are the key things you hope to achieve in the coming 12 months?

One area I’d like to focus on in the year ahead would be predictive analysis to enable storytelling through data, particularly when looking at client campaigns.

I think it would be beneficial to take learnings from our existing data and use those to shape strategic predictive analysis, and essentially take a guided approach to data-driven forecasting.

Being in a position where we have can predict our audience and their trends, so we understand their engagement with our content, even prior to it being created, would enable us to adapt our products, or style, to ensure we can tailor our approach and evoke the desired responses.

Harleen Thethy is one of our 2022 Global Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics. To discover the full list and exclusive interviews with this year's 'top 100', click here now.