Development Program Grad Class of 2012: 10 Years Later: Ben Voorhorst
What first attracted you to 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
The overall mission of being customer first and making people's lives easier.
What was your first title at 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
Associate Analyst, Data Scientist
What were your primary responsibilities in your first role at 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
I was responsible for custom insights projects on the Macy's account. Basically, this meant digging through the Macy's transaction and email data to pull out insights about specific campaigns or initiatives the Macy's team had questions about.
What are your primary responsibilities in your current role?
Overseeing the Content Management Media Platform team. This includes identifying the team's priorities, what's going to provide the most value, and planning the team's roadmap. It also involves explaining "The Why" back to the team so that everyone knows the value of the things that they're working on.
Describe your path to your current role. How did you get here?
I was on the Macy's team for the first 1.5 years of my career. Back when I was in the grad program, we completed rotations to new roles after 1.5-2 years. For that rotation, I rolled off to the Custom Insights team (focused on doing custom insights projects for Kroger). Shortly into that role, we really started to focus on automation, which is a passion of mine. They spun up the Insights Engineering team, which I got to be a member of and help roll out the initial APEX versions of the UPC Validator and Bullseye. About a year after that there was a re-org, and the Insights Engineering team got moved to Engineering. I was in Engineering for about a year before I was brought back to Data Science by [SVP, Science & Technology Solutions] Nick Hamilton to be on the Bullseye team. This was right before Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) started, so as KPM started growing exponentially and relying on Bullseye, I was in charge of implementing a lot of those new capabilities in Bullseye to support KPM. I was in that role for about 6 years before I decided that I wanted to be less hands-on in the code and more focused on prioritizing the work and interacting with stakeholders, so I switched to a Product role still supporting the Bullseye team (now called KM+). It wasn't long (four months) before the Media side of the business went through another re-org, which opened up the Director of Content Management position that I'm in today.
What has kept you at 84.51° for 10 years?
The great people. Even when work wasn't the most fun or I wasn't enjoying what I was working on, I always enjoyed interacting with the people on my team.
What are your career highlights or most memorable experiences at 84.51°?
Definitely building Bullseye and seeing it grow with the KPM business. I'm very proud of the work that was done on that team, and I can say without a doubt KPM would not be where it's at today without Bullseye.
Also, one year they had "foosball with Stuart" as a Silent Auction item. I made sure to win that auction and now have a trophy on my desk for a foosball game won with Stuart Aitken, our former CEO.
How do you feel the Development Program prepped you for success at 84.51°?
It gave me a lot of good experiences early on in my career. I actually enjoyed the forced rotation because it gave me insights into how different areas of the business operate, plus I got to expand my network and meet a lot of great people.
Looking back when you first joined 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby) 10 years ago, is this where you thought you'd be in your career?
Haha, not at all. I majored in Math and got my Masters in Finance, so I never thought I'd be working in Data Science or Advertising. But, I wouldn't have it any other way!
What advice do you have for someone starting their career at 84.51°?
Be humble, never stop asking questions, and always look for those places where you can make people's lives easier.
Do you have any mentors with the company? Who? Please explain.
There are several people I could mention here, but the biggest mentor I've had throughout my career has been Nick Hamilton. Nick always finds a way to get stuff done. It might not be the prettiest or most technically sound, but it gets the job done. What's most important is making people's lives easier, and Nick has always been a great example of that. Also, just the way he approaches every situation with a smile on his face, always trying to lead by befriending the people he's working with and not being aggressive or intimidating, is a great example for how I try to lead as well.
How has 84.51° changed in the 10 years you've been with the company?
Is there anything that's the same?! I guess BCC is still around. :)
The ever-changing technology is definitely one of the biggest things that is constantly changing. When I first started, we were doing all of our coding in SAS, followed shortly after by Exadata, and now we're moving to the cloud with Azure. It's exciting to see all the progress we've made in the last 10 years!