Development Program Grad Class of 2012: 10 Years Later: Patrick Kelly
What first attracted you to 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
While in college, my friend was playing in a band locally. I met one of the other band member's parents, a merchandising leader for Heinz, during a show and after talking a bit, he said "have you heard of dunnhumby? It’s great and you should consider working there." The next week, he introduced me to [84.51° Media Account Executive Director] Mark Hils. And there is no better intro to dunnhumby / 84.51° culture than Mark Hils! I started my internship the next summer.
What was your first title at 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
What were your primary responsibilities in your first role at 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby)?
As an intern, I worked on a project to automate the "golden rules" for preparing transaction data prior to an analysis. Once I joined full time, I initially worked as an analyst (now Data Science) on our Custom Insights business, building custom analyses for our CPG clients, before joining the Price and Promotion Kroger-facing team.
What are your primary responsibilities in your current role?
I set and lead the vision for 84.51°’s product strategy, ensuring our ability to consistently deliver market-leading, integrated, and platform-based products and solutions, including the leadership of our Product, Design, and Agile Delivery functions.
Describe your path to your current role. How did you get here?
I started my career at dunnhumby in data science. After a couple of years of working in Custom Insights and Price & Promotion, I moved into the "Consumer Markets" business while pursuing my Master’s degree in Chicago. I took a bit of an unexpected turn from there, seeking experience in a Chicago start up, I went into sales for a year at Label Insight, a grocery retail product attribution company. I immensely value my sales experience but realized I did not belong on that path. Following that, I joined SPINS to lead their data science team and moved into leading Product for a couple years. Then found my way back to 84.51°, leading product for Insights, Merchandising Analytics & Operations, and Commercial Platforms before taking my current role as head of Product & Design last year.
What made you return to 84.51° after your brief stint away?
What brought me back, aside from moving back to Cincinnati with my growing family, is the people, culture, and business opportunity. We work with amazing people that are a unique blend of kind, collaborative, and highly talented… and in an exciting business with massive opportunities on both sides of the flywheel – driving meaningful growth in America's biggest traditional grocer and huge commercial value opportunities with our clients... always driving value through making people's lives easier.
What are your career highlights or most memorable experiences at 84.51°?
It is hard to beat the fun of the early days in the Development Program – so much learning, camaraderie, and new opportunities. Outside of those early days, my years in "Consumer Markets" were particularly memorable. The full process of building analytical solutions, selling the value into the client orgs, and winning renewals with a small team was challenging and thrilling. This was also where I got my serendipitous first tastes of my love for Product. We had to deeply understand our users and customers then build useful and viable solutions to meet their needs or risk losing the business.
How do you feel the Development Program prepped you for success at 84.51°?
The Development Program was great! It provided the fundamentals of the full breadth of the business (which can be so complex and a bit overwhelming from the outside) and the camaraderie of a "class" that all got to traverse the early days of dunnhumby / 84.51° together. It is a significant investment and well worth it!
Looking back when you first joined 84.51° (formerly dunnhumby) 10 years ago, is this where you thought you'd be in your career?
Of course not! It is much easier to look back at the now clear path of a career than it is to imagine which of the infinite paths you will take going forward. I am so grateful for the data science background and my "tours" in data science, consulting, and sales that ultimately led to Product and leadership.
What advice do you have for someone starting their career at 84.51°?
84.51° is full of exceptionally collaborative and supportive people. Reach out to others on your team, to leaders, to people in different functions to learn and expand your perspective. Also, do great work. 84.51° is a growing business that prefers to reward internal associates with new opportunities. Focus on high value opportunities and be relentless. (... and I checked to see what advice ChatGPT has to offer. Not bad!)
Some good advice for someone starting their career includes:
Be open to learning and new experiences.
Network and build relationships with people in your industry.
Take initiative and be willing to take on new responsibilities.
Set goals for yourself and work to achieve them.
Seek feedback from your colleagues and superiors and use it to improve.
Be adaptable and able to change course if necessary.
Be honest, reliable and respectful.
Be ready to work hard and be persistent in the face of challenges.
Keep up to date with the latest developments in your field.
Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
Do you have any mentors with the company? Who? Please explain.
I have been fortunate to have a number of mentors along my career journey so far, including some that persisted through company changes. This is a smaller industry than it may initially seem. Know that the relationships you build today will likely show up in many chapters of your career.
How has 84.51° changed in the 10 years you've been with the company?
The business has changed and grown tremendously. Entirely new business teams were founded. The structures and ways of operating have changed several times over. However, the people-first culture and core philosophy of customer focus / making people's lives easier is an amazingly consistent thread through the decade. We should all be proud of that!
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