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Moving at Zip speed while building data that stands the test of time


Tal Bergman


November 11, 2022

Moving at Zip speed while building data that stands the test of time

I consider myself an ‘adventurist’. I always have. I spend a lot of my time in nature hiking, surfing and sailing, looking to push myself to new heights by taking calculated risks.

It’s an attitude that defines how I spend my weekends and time off, but it’s also something that’s helped shape my career. Prior to starting in my role of Director of Data at Zip just over four months ago, I spent over twelve years at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) working across data strategy, the implementation of data management frameworks and a variety of other data and analytics related roles.

Looking back, I’m really proud of what we achieved. There were a fair few moments of chaos, and times where it felt like we were chasing the impossible, but our work spearheading CBA’s first ever data strategy helped inform how the entire business would become more data-driven in the way it was run. Using data to help people lead the lives they want to live

Now, leading the data, analytics and data science teams at Zip, I’m in a really exciting position in an organisation whose purpose is to help create a world where people can live fearlessly today, knowing they’re in control tomorrow. As an adventurist, this concept of ‘living fearlessly’ really resonates with me in terms of the way I choose to go about my life, and it was a big pull for me to join Zip.

Today, it’s what drives me at work, whether that’s looking at the experiences we want to provide for our customers and merchants, or designing an inclusive work environment where Zipsters in the data and analytics team feel that they can experiment, innovate and take risks without the fear of failure.

I’ve always been drawn to the role that financial services organisations play in helping people with their wellbeing. In my role at Zip, where we’re operating without the burden of complex legacy platforms, we have a very unique opportunity to move incredibly fast with data to help millions of people live the lives they want to live, while they stay in control financially.

Creating value with data that stands the test of time

When I think of the scope of the team’s work - beyond how we’re supporting customers to manage their finances in smarter ways, or giving merchants better insight into who’s buying their products - what really excites me is the value we’re bringing to the table to support our global teams at Zip to deliver against our strategy. How we approach product design and development, how we manage risk or how we optimise the way we engage with our customers - these initiatives are all reliant on data, and the work of our team. Given the importance that data plays at Zip, making sure it is built reliably and fit for its use is fundamental to what we do.

As we’ve expanded into a global business, with a stronger focus on one of our values ‘Customer First’, the team have been able to stand up a number of amazing pieces of work over the last six months as we continue to modernise our data platform. And we’ve had to do it in a way that would set us up for success over the long-term. The outcomes for our teams so far have been incredible, and excitingly it’s just the start of the journey.

One example is a marketing measurement framework which enables Zip to make more robust, data-driven decisions around how we engage customers and prospects. This capability will mean even greater personalisation in the experiences we create for our customers, and more robust decision making for our marketing teams in terms of channel, service or offer.

My message to the team as we continue to migrate our data pipelines into the new platform is to ‘be more curious’ so that we’re always challenging ourselves, and the wider business, to make sure our data is fit for purpose and will stand the test of time.

How Zipsters are moving faster than ever with data

We’re operating in an extremely competitive and fast-paced environment, so we’re always looking for new ways to evolve our product and services. In that respect, data and analytics plays a huge role in enabling us to experiment, test and measure new ideas.

The faster and more reliably we make those decisions about what to release to the market, the better the outcome for our customers and our bottom line. We have a big role to play in building data literacy for our leaders so they can understand where it can be used across the business - so far we’ve created some really strong champions which is great to see.

When it comes to the culture I’m trying to create in the team, I want Zipsters to strive for new heights. My vision is that every person in the team becomes ‘world-class’.

If you think about the best sports teams in the world, there’s not one person in the team who’s not at that level. An activity I like to run when we get new teams together is to ask individuals to do their research into what ‘world-class’ looks like to them and discuss the research and their own ideas to come up with personal ‘commits’ as to how they’ll work towards becoming world class.

With each team member striving to be the best version of themselves, we have a great foundation to create a world class team!

Already embedded in the culture at Zip is this idea of coming together as a team to constructively challenge the status quo, and each other’s ideas and opinions. In other places I’ve worked and certainly where other Zipsters have worked before, the attitude has often been ‘we need to get everything right’, which in data terms, can take a very long time. What I enjoy about working here - and what I’m also hoping to embed in the team and the wider Zip culture - is moving from concept to launch when we might not know if everything is 100% correct, but working within a clear set of guardrails to iterate and move fast into new ideation and design based on the data we gather.

Helping create a safe space for experimentation

For me it goes back to the concept of ‘fearlessness’. We’re building a safe space for experimentation, but also career growth. We’ve been able to create new pathways into the team, for example a Product Manager wanted more technical experience and has hit the ground running in a Data Engineering role. More broadly, we’ve helped Zipsters in our Customer Experience function move into analytics roles. It makes perfect sense bringing knowledge from team members who understand what’s happening with our customers into data and analytics. That’s going to be hugely beneficial for us.

In that sense we’re helping more people belong and find their place. What I’m also really excited about are some of the other aspects of our ‘deal’ with Zipsters. We’re very much a ‘hybrid working’ team and we’re enabled to work flexibly through our technology and really progressive flexible work policies.

We’re also making great strides towards gender equity, including a customer data science team made up entirely of women which is creating better balance across the broader function. In addition, we’re insisting on gender balanced candidate pools when recruiting for new roles so we can continue to promote diversity of thought and experience in the team.

One of the things I’m most proud about working at Zip, and certainly something that makes working here unique - the presence we have across the world, and therefore the diversity of Zipsters across the business. When it comes to some of the hot topics in terms of bias in modelling, or the ethical use of AI, to be able to call upon the opinions and knowledge of such a diverse global workforce means we can continue to become a more effective organisation in the way we support our customers and merchants.

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