wid meet ups
Sainsbury's Group

1st October 2020

1st October 2020

Lockdown Lowdown – How Retail Data Feeds the Nation:

From panic buying to lockdown, you can tell an accurate story of 2020 so far from retail data alone. We’ll take you through the journey of how our teams of data superheroes came together to use analytics and technology to help our customers and those in need during this pandemic.

  • Welcome and overview from Helen Hunter, Group Chief Data Officer
  • See below for the jam packed agenda looking at this year’s unexpected priorities from some of the great talent at Sainsbury’s.
  • Panel Q&A session
  • One hour of networking

When: 18.30 – 20.30 on Thursday, 1st October 2020
Who should attend? Data practitioners of all levels

Watch the Sainsbury’s Virtual Meet-up

We expect this Meet-up to be oversubscribed.  Therefore, tickets will be allocated by ballot.  Please register to be included and we will be in touch to confirm your attendance.

Helen Hunter

Group Chief Data Officer

As Group Chief Data Officer at Sainsbury’s plc, Helen’s remit is to maximise the value of the Group’s data asset: democratising access and finding creative ways to unlock its insight potential in support of Sainsbury’s strategy to ‘know our customers better than anyone else’. Over the last 8 years at Sainsbury’s in roles including Director of Innovation, and Director of Data and Relationship Marketing, Helen has brought to bear her experience of navigating large organisations to develop products and propositions at the intersection of data, digital, technology, performance marketing and loyalty. These have included Sainsbury’s Brand Match and Sainsbury’s new Nectar. Helen thrives on solving problems and delivering innovation by building both products and people. Before joining Sainsbury’s, Helen held roles at emnos, Home Retail Group, Woolworths Group, and Kingfisher, having read modern history at Oxford. She lives in central London with two young children (6 and 2) and is a fan of skiing, sci-fi and European crime drama.


Those that attended WiD 2018 and 2019 will remember Helen’s outstanding talks. She looks forward to welcoming you and introducing some of the Sainsbury’s team.

Rachel McNally

Data Analyst

Rachel joined Sainsbury’s 2.5 years as a Digital Analyst and at the beginning of 2020 transitioned to a Data Analyst role. In this role she enables Central Retail to reach their strategic goals, identifying areas where efficiency can be improved or we can better service our customers.

Her passion for problem solving started from a young age which led her to study Mathematics at the University of East Anglia. Prior to Sainsbury’s Rachel worked in Digital Optimisation at Oracle, helping some of the biggest high street retailers to improve their online customer experience.

Outside of work Rachel enjoys crafting, dance and loves a BBC crime drama.

Alexandra Burrow

Retail Analytics Manager

Alex has always been incurably curious, striving to understand, discover and learn. In her position as Retail Analytics Manager she leads a team who support the Central Retail function. They discover opportunities, solve problems and guide the business in what to do next in relation to tills, replenishment and in store processes.

Alex is also actively involved in building community through communities of practice, data networks and externally in the Shoreditch Sisters Women’s Institute. 

Jenna Sweeny

Studying Mathematics at the University of Bath, Jenna discovered her love of data and analytics whilst on her industrial placement year with Sainsbury’s.

After quickly finding her passion for programming and problem solving she returned to Sainsbury’s, post grad, providing insights for both the retail and online areas of the business.

Outside of analytics she enjoys travelling, good food and theatre.

Jessica Sheehan

Product Manager

Jessica is a product manager for a fast paced data team in Sainsburys tech, focusing on enabling the greatest insights into our transactional sales data . Another area of focus for her team is customer interactions data, enabling us to better understand our customers and to be more responsive to what they need.

Prior to Sainsburys, Jessica worked in environmental policy and regulatory projects with a data focus in the UK and Australia. Most recently, Jessica worked in the public sector implementing an enterprise data hub and constructing pipelines for regulatory data. She is drawn to data products not only for the vast potential of insights they can provide, but by the collaborative and dynamic working of the agile approach.

When she’s not talking data, Jessica dabbles in painting and has most recently participated in group shows in Athens and London.

Shazia Syed

Product Manager

Shazia is a Product Manager in Data Tech at Sainsburys working with an agile team focused on the world of Customer Digital Interactions from web, online and apps.

Her squad works at pace to ingest millions of customer transactions from our digital spaces, capturing these events into our cloud platform to enable the business to leverage useful insights.

She started in Sainsburys in January and previously worked within the FinTech domain on a global order management platform that empowered Investment Banks to run deals for listings on Stock Exchanges around the world.

Shazia is driven by a passion and curiosity to understand how tech changes our behaviour in the everyday lives we lead. Outside of the office Shazia continues to love all things Retail and Consumer, often frequenting ‘insta’ hotspots to observe trends, changes and their effects. Additionally, visiting popups and stores to understand AR and interactive campaigns as the experience evolves.

Pooja Agicha

Data Engineering Manager

Pooja leads and aligns one of the data engineering teams with the company’s vision, at Sainsbury’s plc. Whether it’s influencing her team to care more about code quality, boosting team productivity, or creating an atmosphere of curiosity, Pooja strives to improve the company culture by building strong cross-team relationships.

A strong believer in “You’re no longer judged on your personal output — you’re judged on your team’s output and what your team can deliver”.

Pooja has worked with top clients including Coach (luxury accessories), Morgan Stanley, Star TV, Virgin Media, Telefonica O2. She collaborates with stakeholders and leadership  to deliver complex and challenging projects.

With her problem fixing attitude she was titled as ‘Ms Fix IT’ by the Vice President of Star TV.

In 2017, Pooja was instrumental in designing the technical strategy and complex  Fuzzy matching algorithms to integrate data from disparate data sources in Virgin Media, London.

Zeal to learn and passion to pursue varied assignments is what keeps Pooja going.

James Salisbury

James is part of the Marketing function within Sainsbury’s; working to better understand, describe and predict customer behaviour across both Sainsbury’s and Argos, primarily through the use of statistical modelling and segmentation. Within the 2 years that James has worked for Sainsbury’s, he has driven a number of projects looking to further this endeavour across a broad range of domains, from analysing Sainsbury’s and Argos customer cross shopping behaviour, to building and inventing new ways to identify our most valuable and engaged customers.

Prior to Sainsbury’s, James spent many years in the telecoms industry delivering data analysis and insights, working across a broad range of departments at TalkTalk and AOL, from Operations, Customer Services, Sales and then Marketing.

Outside work, James enjoys tinkering with electronic and home lab projects, running, and keeping his two small children out of trouble.

Emily Smith

Emily joined Sainsbury’s Campaign Analytics team 2 years ago and is responsible for optimising campaign targeting and manipulating data for our many marketing campaigns across all channels. Working closely with the Online Propositions team, Emily builds targeted customers selections for all things online, Smart Shop and Digital.

Emily’s interest in data was first sparked during her degree in Geography at the University of Nottingham, where she couldn’t get enough of stats, maps and graphs!

More recently in her role, she has been working hard alongside her team in testing and implementing the upgrade and migration of their Campaign Management tool, Unica; which is used to build all of Sainsbury’s marketing campaigns.

Outside of the office, you can find Emily on the hockey pitch or tennis courts (whenever she’s not running her Guinea Pigs’ Instagram account that is!)

Mhairi Strefford

Lead Insight Consultant at Nectar360

Mhairi is a Lead Insight Consultant at Nectar360, where she has worked for 3 years. Prior to joining Nectar360 she worked at Tesco for 4 years in a variety of roles. She is passionate about putting the customer at the heart of decision making and understanding the What, the Why and the So What behind how customers shop within Sainsbury’s.

Using this data to help Sainsbury’s and their suppliers to maximise their performance. She manages a team working across Ranging, Promotions and NPD, underpinning it all the Customer. Outside of work Mhairi enjoys socialising with friends, indulging her creative side through painting and visiting family in Scotland, although due to Covid-19 this has become more virtual.

Pallavi Mishra

Insight Manager

Pallavi joined Sainsbury’s this June and as an Insight Manager she is responsible for assessing changes in customer behaviour and its impact of Retail and Competitor strategy.

Prior to this, she worked for over 8 years with agencies like Nielsen and Kantar, following her passion of telling a Shopper story to inspire business decisions. Outside of work, Pallavi enjoys playing badminton and exploring food with her 2 year old daughter.

Elizabeth Harris

Senior Customer Analytics Manager

Lizzie studied Mathematics at Cardiff University and got the bug for programming and analytics whilst working in Credit Risk at Lloyds Banking Group. She now heads up Customer & Loyalty Analytics at Sainsbury’s; running a team of 30 analysts in an agile fashion, responsible for driving significant sales, growing our understanding of customers and pushing the boundaries on personalisation. She has a deep understanding in how to extract customer preference, behaviour and sentiment from data for conversion to opportunity, with a particular passion for macros, automation, algorithms and debugging.

Lizzie is fanatical about growing inclusive talent and spearheads the business-wide Analytics Internship scheme whereby 55 students have so far experienced a year’s placement within the Analytics, Data and Science community, learning about using maths at work.

When she isn’t programming Lizzie enjoys cricket and playing cello in an orchestra, as well as obsessively reorganising her bookshelves.

Vicky Pike

Vicky has worked in IT and data her whole career. She currently leads the Customer data team in Sainsbury’s, which focusses on delivering up the vast and diverse Customer and Sales datasets for her analytical partners. This helps Sainsbury’s better know their customers to provide the best possible shopping experience.

Before Sainsbury’s, Vicky was Head of Data at Mencap, the UK’s largest charity supporting people with a learning disability. Among other things, she led the development of a national scale support manager dashboard, shortlisted for the 2020 DataIQ awards.

She also took 10 years sabbatical, to focus on her children and family and as she puts it, ‘honing her life skills’. Vicky admits to being a serial hobbyist with growing vegetables, sketching, and painting among her latest


Alice Carafoli Brown

Alice’s professional life has always been about technology and data: from her studies, to the first job as a DB connectivity specialist, she then worked on BI and data engineering for several companies mostly within the Insurance industry. Alice has always loved the technical aspect of her roles, especially coding; enjoying the buzz when solving a problem, with a simpler, innovative solution.

For the past years Alice’s focus has moved from developing code to developing engineers; it gives her great satisfaction to help an individual or a team to grow their technical abilities, be inspired and succeed achieving great results.

Steph Bell

Steph has over 15 years of experience in Data & Analytics; having spent 9 years focussed on Marketing Analytics and Customer Loyalty at Nectar360, Steph moved across to Sainsbury’s in early 2020.

Driven by a desire to drive impact through analytics, Steph leads a team of over 50 data professionals all looking to unlock incremental value for their stakeholders.

Outside of Sainsbury’s, Steph is Mum to two young children and is currently juggling the reality that is Reception homework!

Beth Hartley

Commercial Strategy Manager

Beth is a Commercial Strategy Manager at Sainsbury’s, and leads a team to re-invent our market price comparison capability. Beth has over nine years of experience specialising in Retail Commercial and Operational Change, and comes from a Big Four management consultancy background. In previous roles she has worked with Aldi, Tesco, Waitrose and Co-op, helping them to advance their end to end capabilities driven by data.

Beth is the Chair of the Sainsbury’s Disability Network, EnAble, and is committed to creating an inclusive society where everyone can thrive. Outside work she is an active disability advocate, visiting Downing Street and Parliament, and also enjoys tennis and cycling in the free time she has!


Session Overview Speakers


Those that attended WiD 2018 and 2019 will remember Helen’s outstanding talks. Helen looks forward to welcoming you and introducing some of the Sainsbury’s team. Helen Hunter, Chief Data & Analytics Officer
Covid Context Setting the scene of covid trends in retail and the need for the wealth of data & analytics that followed. Pallavi Mishra, Insight Manager
Covid Capability Collaboration Two large features demonstrating the mix of analytics and technology capabilities involved in turning data into insight into action at pace.

1. Covid Customers & Comms

Taking care of our customers in need; identifying them, regularly communicating with them, and guaranteeing their priority and availability online.

  • Becca Smyth, Campaign Delivery Analytics Lead
  • James Salisbury, Analytics Manager
  • Jessica Sheehan, Data Product Manager
  • Shazia Syed, Data Product Manager
Covid Capability Collaboration 2. Covid Commercial Calibrations

Enabling our response in stores; e.g. changes to opening hours, colleague availability and more.

  • Rachel McNally, Analyst
  • Alexandra Burrow, Analytics Manager
  • Jenna Sweeney, Analyst
  • Pooja Agicha, Data Engineering Manager
Panel Q&A Please come ready with questions to ask anything of our fabulous Women in Data at Sainsbury’s!
  • Elizabeth Harris – Senior Analytics Manager, Marketing (host)
  • Helen Hunter – Chief Data & Analytics Officer
  • Vicky Pike – Principal Product Manager, Customer Data
  • Alice Carafoli Brown – Senior Engineering Manager, Product Data
  • Beth Hartley – Analytics Manager, Commercial Strategy
  • Steph Bell – Senior Analytics Manager, Tech
  • Mhairi Strefford – Lead Consultant, Nectar360