wid meet ups
18th July – Sainsbury's Group

18th July – Sainsbury’s Group

Delve into the world of retail analytics at Women in Data UK and Sainsbury’s Group’s meet-up. We’re excited to showcase the best of Sainsbury’s talent as they offer the chance to explore how they operate and give their top tips.

Sessions and Topics

Helen Hunter, Group Chief Data Officer – Welcome

Villy Rapti, Insights Analyst – Don’t store granola in silos

Emilie Lhomme, Data Scientist – Decisions, Decisions, Decisions! How We’re Automating complex decisions with Machine Learning and Maths

Chris Bernans, Head of Technology for Data & Data Engineering & Ellen Pattison, Data Product Manager – Grand (Data Engineering) Designs: tips for packing, moving and settling into your new (ware)house

Laurie Rosten, Data Analyst – Space – the final frontier

Lizzie Harris, Senior Customer Analytics Manager – You do you

Q&A – Questions and answers with: Helen Hunter, Group Chief Data Officer, Lizzie Harris, Senior Customer Analytics Manager, Jo Zhou, Product Manager Enda Ridge, Chief Data Scientist, Chris Bernans, Head of Technology for Data & Data Engineering & Chaminga Chandratillake, Chief Data Officer

When: 17.30 – 20.30 on Thursday, 18 July 2019
Where: 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
Who should attend? Data practitioners of all levels


Name: Helen Hunter, Group Chief Data Officer

Title: Welcome


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 UK 2018 will remember Helen’s outstanding talk. She looks forward to welcoming you and introducing the speakers.

Name: Enda Ridge, Chief Data Scientist


As Sainsbury’s Argos Chief Data Scientist, Enda is passionate about helping customers and colleagues make better decisions using data, mathematics and machine learning. He speaks at conferences and advises companies on building Agile applied data science teams that support decision-makers in pragmatically benefitting from machine learning, algorithms and analytics.

At Sainsbury’s Argos, Enda has built a cross functional team of scientists, engineers and product management who create algorithm packages and services to automate complex Retail decision making in technology products. The team have applied operations research and machine learning to in-store operations, digital, depots and supplier processes to uncover benefits and opportunities in the millions.

Prior to joining Sainsbury’s Argos, Enda worked in forensic analytics consulting, delivering fraud solutions and fast paced analytics to global clients in financial services, technology and government. He has undergraduate and MSc degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Computing (National University of Ireland, Galway) and a PhD in Computer Science (University of York, UK). He is the author of the book Guerrilla Analytics – a Practical Approach to Working with Data. This describes 7 principles and 100 practice tips for reproducible, explainable analytics and data science.

When not working, Enda spends time with his son, improves his Gaeilge, listens to Appalachian fiddle and banjo and reads science fiction.

Name: Villy Rapti, Insights Analyst

Title: Don’t store granola in silos


I originally studied Civil Engineering but the data world managed to win me instead. I joined Sainsbury’s in November 2017 and have been doing customer analytics on Sainsbury’s Food Business since then. You will most probably find me doing analysis around promotions and new product launches or answering stakeholder’s questions. In my spare time I like watching horror movies or spending time in planes while travelling home (that is, Greece).


If you’ve spent a lot of time deciding which product to buy in a supermarket, have you ever wondered how many decisions need to be made before this product even reaches the shelf?  In this talk you will find out how a team of analysts at Sainsbury’s brought together a number of disparate streams of work to answer this question.

Name: Ellen Pattison, Data Product Manager

Title: Grand (Data Engineering) Designs: tips for packing, moving and settling into your new (ware)house


Ellen joined Sainsbury’s BI team as a mathematics graduate in 2016 and has since enjoyed a diverse and fulfilling career delivering insights and data products for teams across the organisation. Having recently taken on the role of Data Product Manager for Digital Analytics, she now leads a team responsible for understanding customer behaviour across Sainsbury’s 10+ digital channels. As one of Sainsbury’s fastest growing propositions, unlocking online data is at the heart of delivering the company strategy to ‘know our customers better than anyone else’. When not in the office, Ellen can often be found on stage taking part in local theatre productions and pantomimes.

Name: Chris Bernans, Head of Technology for Data & Data Engineering

Title: Grand (Data Engineering) Designs: tips for packing, moving and settling into your new (ware)house


As Head of Technology for Data & Data Engineering at Sainsbury’s, Chris is responsible for the product roadmap and teams of engineers and technologists which build, iterate and operate the Group’s data capabilities. Over the last 5 years at Sainsbury’s Chris has worked in product and technology roles in Digital and Marketing on propositions such as Groceries Online, Tu Clothing and Nectar. Before this Chris started his career in payment and banking technology working for companies in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands before joining Visa Europe. He lives in London and is a long suffering fan of Derby County.


What do you do with the data of a Group which includes Sainsbury’s, Argos, Nectar and a Bank? We have had to prioritise what data is most valuable, how we move it and how our customers can get value from it. In this talk we will share how we have answered the questions this challenge generates and what we learned along the way.

Name: Chaminga Chandratillake, Chief Data Officer


Cham is the Chief Data Officer for Sainsbury’s supermarkets. He leads a team of data professionals in applying analytical thinking to solve retail problems. He has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College London and started his career as an Automotive Engineer. He loves applying his engineer’s mindset to the widely varying commercial challenges that the retail world presents. Before joining Sainsbury’s, Cham spent a number of years at Tesco, introducing data to various parts of the business. Outside of work Cham spends most of his time chasing after his two young children. He also bakes.

Name: Emilie Lhomme, Data Scientist

Title: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!   How We’re Automating complex decisions with Machine Learning and Maths


Emilie Lhomme is a data scientist at Sainsbury’s. Her passion? Leveraging machine learning and operational research to bring both satisfaction to customers and efficiency to the business.

During her time at Sainsbury’s, Emilie has built predictive models – identifying customers’ next purchases and building a personalised rewards scheme; optimisation algorithms – helping improve supply chain efficiency; and natural language processing tools – highlighting the trends in customers’ reviews.

Emilie has an MSc degree in Statistics (ENSAI, France).

When not working, one of her favourite activities is lifting heavy things – she trains and competes in powerlifting.


Modern Retail is complex. Millions of customers. Hundreds of thousands of deliveries. Competing objectives with many constraints. In this talk, you’ll see our team’s approach to pragmatic data science for business decision-making. You’ll see how a fuzzy business objective becomes a perfect mathematical model and then a pragmatic operational algorithm.

Name: Laurie Rosten, Data Analyst

Title: Space – the final frontier


Laurie works in the Analytics team at Sainsbury’s where she supports the Food side of the business with decision making surrounding range, price and promotions. Most recently she has been promoting the power of data by unlocking and sharing insights related to key in store propositions. Prior to Sainsbury’s she qualified as a Maths teacher and has spent 2 years living in Bristol working with University students. Outside of the office Laurie enjoys visiting new places and making banana pancakes with her 4 year old son.


Everyone knows just how hot the data and analytics sector is – this talk will cover why that is the case in the modern retail world specifically. We’ll also share a short case study of a recent use case and the challenges we faced in delivery.

Name: Lizzie Harris, Senior Customer Analytics Manager

Title: You do you


Lizzie studied Mathematics at Cardiff University and got the bug for programming whilst on a Credit Risk internship at Lloyds Banking Group. Now as Senior Customer Analytics Manager at Sainsbury’s she is 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 significant experience in loyalty strategy, CRM and analysing customer behaviour, with a particular passion for macros, automation, debugging and algorithms.

Lizzie is fanatical about growing talent and spearheads the business-wide Analytics Internship scheme whereby 55 students have so far experienced a year’s placement within the Data, Analytics and Science community, learning about using maths at work. 53% of this year’s intake are women.

When she isn’t programming Lizzie enjoys cricket (batter) and playing in an orchestra (cello).



Tips on how to find your strengths and maximise them so you can be the best version of you, and a personal experience of how Sainsbury’s is embracing the difference.

Name: Jo Zhou, Product Manager


Jo joined Sainsbury’s Data Science and Algorithm team as the Product Manager 1 month ago. Her responsibility is to drive the product mindset and team vision of automating complex decision making for the customer and colleagues. She is passionate about applying Agile in the real world and make it work for different team and individuals. Prior to that, she was with News UK where she embedded herself into the wider data programme driving productionizing insights for the business with Data scientist, engineers and analysts. She has also spent some time with consultancy as a lead consultant. Outside of work, Jo spends lots of time visiting different coffee shops to find the best possible coffee beans.