“Fostering Data Maturity is a core driver to support a business at scale”
In conversation with David Castro-Gavino, Global Vice President Data at HelloFresh
With over 25 years of experience in leading data teams globally, David Castro-Gavino took the challenge to unlock HelloFresh’s superpower and embrace its data maturity. In this interview he gives us more insights on the work of HelloFresh’s Data Alliance and what’s important to him in leading his team.
Tell us about your career journey and how you ended up at HelloFresh two and a half years ago.
I have been in the technology industry for almost three decades and have worked alongside some of the best in the industry. In 2011 I joined dunnhumby where I spent nine years in a variety of technical and commercial roles that allowed me to travel the world, from implementing the Data CoE in India, building a team from the ground up to partnering with retailers and brands across the globe to leverage data, science and analytics into the center of customer-focused decision making.
In 2020, after a short period at booking.com, I joined HelloFresh to lead the Data Alliance and drive data maturity by providing frameworks, processes, technology and tools that govern collaboration between data producers and consumers. This position was particularly exciting for me, since HelloFresh faces a hyper growth environment that needs to achieve data maturity in order to grow further. HelloFresh is a global data-driven business using state of the art technology while bringing on a unique culture that has a big appetite to disrupt the food industry. Combine this with the sustainability driven purpose of the company mission - and I didn’t need to think twice to take this opportunity.
What is your team working on?
At HelloFresh, Data is a key strategic asset that drives value by supporting and automating decision-making across the whole value chain. Both producers and consumers of data need to collaborate in a seamless and transparent way to maximize profitability and business success and to continuously improve our customer experience. The Data Alliance is a highly cross-functional team with the mission to elevate HelloFresh's data maturity so that curated, trustworthy, and validated data is easily available to everyone. Our team significantly speeds up time to actionable insight for Hello Fresh’s high priority strategies and drive the return of investment. That means providing data to enable cost savings and profitability steering in Finance, Marketing and Operations. In parallel we prepare for further growth in a more challenging macroeconomic environment. That means we will keep investing into the scalability of our data ecosystem and provide foundational data assets for key business growth initiatives. Furthermore we establish clear governance, ownership, and organizational structures while building a data-driven culture that values actionable insights.
How does data drive business value?
Fostering Data Maturity is a core driver to support a business at scale. Let me give you one example: The production of our HelloFresh boxes is continuously growing across all geographies. The number of orders delivered in 2019 was at 37.5 million and tripled in only two years to 117.3 million orders in 2021.
Especially in HelloFresh’s US business the production grew exponentially in a short period of time.
Real time tracking throughout the whole assembly lines in our distribution centers is very important. It enables the production directors to find error sources and take corrective action to increase the efficiency of our deliveries. That means that collecting the right data and making it accessible for the decision makers has a direct impact on the cost efficiency of the business.
What were the exact improvements in this case?
Before we implemented our Data Streaming Solution, the system had a latency of 15 to 45 minutes to share data and lacked granularity, because it wasn’t able to handle the scale of our production. After implementing our Data Streaming Solution we are able to consume near real-time data from our distribution centers and leverage a combination of technologies to deliver a solution that presents data under 1 minute from creation.
This is one of my favorite examples to show how data solutions drive business growth. By making data accessible in a short amount of time, we help the production to deliver more efficiently. For this project many different teams - from business to tech - across the globe collaborated, learned from each other and brought massive value to the company. I think this showcases how exciting it is to work in a company at scale like HelloFresh and how much impact our tech team has on the business.
How do you incorporate the HelloFresh DNA to your day to day work?
One of HelloFresh’s core working values is living an egoless environment, which is also very important to me personally. Bringing your best self to work and recognizing everyone's efforts and strengths is crucial for a good and successful working culture. I am also very passionate about putting the customer in the center of everything my team and me do. For me and my team that means not only the end-consumer receiving our HelloFresh products, but also our internal customers, like engineers or data analysts, that we support with valuable data. Understanding their needs and how we impact their work, continuous knowledge sharing and driving active collaboration is at the core of our daily work.