The rise of digital in the last 20 years has created an entirely new playbook around how data is collected, processed and utilised by companies to help them do better business.
As strategic data has come to the fore as a business tool, it has created new career pathways for professionals such as Lion’s Su-Ann Porter. In her role of Strategic Intelligence Marketing Manager, Su-Ann leads a team of data scientist and intelligence managers, using tracking and machine learning models to help Lion make better-informed decisions in relation to marketing, sales, customers and finance.
Su-Ann’s title occasionally requires explanation but is then met with enthusiasm by the people she meets. How would her friends describe her role?
“They’d say it’s unique, strange, niche and pretty interesting,” says Su-Ann, and it’s one she clearly enjoys.
“I think my role is amazing because it has a combination of people management, technical skills, having to be commercially sound and being able to convert what seems complicated into something digestible,” she says. “I’m also constantly learning, and this role keeps me on my feet with technology.”
With technology quite literally moving at the speed of (fibre-optic) light, it’s a good thing Su-Ann and her team are on their toes when it comes to the latest tech and its capabilities, particularly in the artificial intelligence (AI) space. AI allows for learning of customer behaviours and is a valuable tool for Lion because ultimately, understanding our customers and exceeding their expectations is at the heart of everything we do.
Delivering better outcomes for customers
Lion’s success pivots on our customers’ loyalty and having a deeper understanding of their future needs and wants is vital to the success of our business. It takes courage to predict future outcomes, but it’s the stuff the Lion strategic marketing team lives for.
Our purpose is to help the business make better and more informed decisions through data.
“But also, to showcase what the team can do with AI and the efficiencies we can deliver for the business.”
Su-Ann speaks with pride about her team and the people she works with. One project she is particularly proud of is the Recommendation Engine as part of Marketplace. Su-Ann explains.
“The team has built an algorithm to drive recommendations to upsell to customers. We recently noticed a customer had been looking at a product through Google Analytics for some time. Because the product was featured as a recommendation, we managed to drive a sale through this customer when they made the decision to click on our recommendation.
"Another project we’ve been working on for the business is category forecast modelling where we use machine learning to predict the future category volume. The model is 90-95% accurate to date and is currently being adopted by the business.”
For someone so deeply entrenched in Lion’s future, it’s perhaps surprising to learn that Su-Ann came to Lion only a year ago with no previous background in the beverages industry.
“The only consistency between my previous roles and this role is the fact that consumers matter and if they don’t buy, we won’t make money – so, understanding data will help us make better decisions.”
“Prior to Lion, my career spanned retail, property and data tech” explains Su-Ann. “In retail I worked on strategy and the modelling behind the strategy to determine how we can best deliver profits for the business. In property, my roles were incredibly diverse: M&A, strategy, research, people management, economics and using data to drive decisions for the business. And in data tech, I joined the property team from client side to consultant. The role was to upskill the team on property matters but also to service clients to help them achieve their strategic outcomes using transaction (such as credit card) data.”
Su-Ann has long carried with her a piece of career advice she once received. “Pace yourself,” she recalls. “Your career is a journey, not a sprint.” Indeed, Su-Ann’s career has been a fascinating journey, and one that has ultimately afforded her the valuable skillset she has brought to her role at Lion.
My career has been an evolution of my interest in data, tech and problem solving.
“My husband played a part in this too because his interest in data and technology probably further fuelled my interest in the space.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone so entrenched in the virtual world when she’s on the tools, Su-Ann enjoys her time away from work enjoying life very much in real life. She is an avid horse rider who has recently signed up to compete in an endurance riding event and enjoys weekends hitching up the caravan and exploring with her husband and daughter.
Whether at work or at rest, Su-Ann believes that curiosity and commitment are the keys to life. “Whatever you do,” she says, “give it your best, otherwise don’t waste your time.”