Dive into Data: A Career in Customer Insight

Next up as part of our Dive into Data series, we’d like to feature the background and career journey of Ed Ryan, Customer Insights Manager at Nisbets, a brilliant example that shows how unconventional backgrounds can lead to dive into data as a career.

Our chat here, to feature a real-life example. How to get into data and an example of how a career path within that field can unfold….

ADLIB: To summarise, what are your main responsibilities as a Customer Insight Manager?

Ed: Sitting within the marketing team, I lead a team of 6 which shares insights on the performance and experience of our customer with many stakeholders around the business.

My team provides reporting which leads to actionable insights, which are usually then translated into campaigns that we select the data for and then measure the performance of.

We also create and use segmentation and propensity models which help target and personalise customer journeys.

I work closely with agencies to brief research projects and have a lot of input into the data architecture of our systems so that we can extract the best insight.

I’m also responsible for digital insights, pulling apart the web journey from how the customer got to the site to the products they bought and everything in between.

Finally, a big part of my job is helping to shape our strategy, ensuring that we test and learn as we go.

ADLIB: What’s your background, what has been your career journey so far leading you to where you are right now?


I started off as a Maths Graduate in 2009. I found it very difficult to get any permanent role. I did any temp work I could get my hands on from punching holes in metal to putting flags out on a pitch and putt golf course!
In 2010 I tried my hand at teaching English in Taiwan, but it didn’t work out for me and I was back in the UK after 3 months.

That’s when I got my job in Direct Wines’ call centre in Gloucester. It was quite enjoyable selling wine! After about 18 months here, I was in a bar, wearing my maths hoodie (sad I know) and I was approached by the operations director. He helped me land a secondment in the marketing analytics team in Reading. My role here was mainly to select data for campaigns and fulfil basic requests. After 3 months, this was made permanent and I moved.

After about another 18 months, my then-girlfriend (now my wife) and I decided it was too expensive in London (we lived in Hayes) and bought a house in Wales.

Luckily, I managed to find a job at Nisbets relatively quickly. I started off as a campaign and data intelligence manager. Mainly, my role was very similar to at Direct wines, but as a superuser of FastStats and a responsibly for building a new suite of dashboards.

After about a year, I gained my first direct report and quickly after adopted another member of the team. The role then continued to develop into the one I explained above.

ADLIB: What attracted you to the data-focused part of marketing?

Ed: As mentioned above, I was more thrown into it, but I’ve always loved it. You really feel like you make a difference when you’re in insight. The results are usually visible because you run them, so it’s easy to understand your purpose. It’s also really interesting. No two days are ever the same! You’re always learning new things as well, whether it’s something technical or just something you didn’t know before about the business or the sector.

ADLIB: What do you see as the top 3 skills it takes to become an Insights Manager?


Leadership – You need to shape the strategy and set the example. Listen to your colleagues and be passionate. Never turn down or ignore a good idea.

Story Telling – You need to be able to explain what the data is telling you in such a way that anyone can understand and make the next suggested action obvious.

Technical – You need to be able to support your team. You can do the job without this, but ideally, when the chips are down and the whole team is off sick, you’ll still be able to get to the answers

ADLIB: Any soft skills that are advantageous to this role in your opinion?

Ed: Be approachable, understanding, compassionate and caring to your team. If they’re good, you want to keep them. Be decisive, bold and a problem solver. Always stand up for your own opinion and what the data tells you. Communicate well and listen. The more you know, the more insightful you’ll be!

Thanks for sharing!

Written by

Head of Data

Insight & Analytics

View profile

Alex Cosgrove