What is your role at Edelman? And how do you describe what you do to your family and friends?
As General Manager of the Edelman Predictive Intelligence Center a.k.a EPIC, my role is to nurture a culture of innovation in AI, behavioral science and data analytics to develop unique offers that augment what we do at Edelman. Given the complexity of predictive analytics, I tend to stay away from the specifics and tell friends and family that I try and keep up with a team of data and behavioral scientists and digital specialists, who are fusing new technologies and psychology to help brands and organizations with their challenges.
Can you give us a few examples of how predictive intelligence works and has an impact?
The application of predictive intelligence in communications is still relatively new, compared to, say, the legal sector, and as such we’re innovating new approaches to traditional client challenges.
One example of how we’ve applied this is in audience segmentation. We know that psychology drives behavior. So by fusing and applying computational psychometrics, AI and data analytics to communications, we can understand the real motivations and external triggers that influence decisions and actions. We’ve already come a long way in understanding who audiences are and how they behave now we can decode why and how to influence behavior. When segmenting audience mindsets, we’re moving beyond basic demographics and media consumption behaviors towards predicting outcomes.
Another example is how we’re applying our capabilities to the fight against human trafficking. Partnering with Stop the Traffik, a non-profit, we’ve developed a human trafficking prevention model. Until recently, it was next to impossible to track and assess the entire trafficking supply chain – from the financing to the brokers to the victims and the buyers. However, data availability and new technologies have changed this. We have already aggregated NGO data, financial data from financial institutions, crowd-sourced and open-sourced data to produce insights about illicit trafficking operations, trafficking routes and financial flows. This leads to real disruption of the human trafficking industry, which for me, is pretty impactful work!
What takes a project from good to great?
I often hear colleagues from creative, research and comms backgrounds compellingly argue their case for how their discipline makes campaigns great. But I don’t believe there is a single silver bullet sitting in any one discipline.
It takes a real fusion of data, creative, digital and smart execution, or at least the right levels of each. No one element is more important than the other. When we get all the disciplines understanding each other and collaborating, we can deliver campaigns that get attention and deliver on effectiveness. Easier said than done!
What excites you about work every day?
It’s always been about the teams I am part of. It is amazing what can be achieved when you put smart, driven and passionate people together. With EPIC, there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not blown away by what a team with different capabilities and perspectives are capable of. They approach our typical client challenges in totally new ways – they break down traditional ways of doing things and rebuild them, hopefully for the better. Also, their personal investment in some of our projects, such as our disruption of human trafficking, has me wanting more out of every day.
What is your biggest achievement to date - personal or professional?
Professionally, my biggest achievement is having stayed closely connected to almost all of my past team members and peers, seeing them grow as leaders and achieve their personal goals. I enjoy helping people get the most out of themselves and when they do great things, I vicariously live their successes. I feel a personal achievement when I am able to encourage and nurture talent.
If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
I would love to be able to play an instrument well. I realized from a very early stage that I am tone deaf, so have never pursued any musical learning but always thought it would be great if I could play the guitar, piano or drums. This also means I sing really badly!
How do you recharge?
My two options are either spending time with friends and family, doing anything – going on a quick break, dinner, cinema – anything that takes my mind away from work.
The other option is hitting a bar or club with friends, some wine and completely random conversations!
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