Steph Cullen

Head of Business Insights, Britvic Soft Drinks

Tell us about your role?

My job entails a number of things. I lead a team that is responsible for understanding the GB business performance in the context of the rest of the market. This entails commercial planning process, business performance management through to agency and budget governance and strategic projects.

What do you love about working in the data industry?

I love the objectiveness of numbers, there is a lot of subjectiveness and opinion that go into business strategy and reasoning for why we do things. But, numbers are objective. Yes they can be interpreted in a number of ways, but a number is a number. On that basis, you can help people to move forward with increased certainty.

What is the biggest risk you have taken?

The biggest risk I have ever taken is going part time to pursue being an international athlete. At the time I was transitioning from being someone who delivered to someone who was leading. So, whilst part of me, my head, wanted to carry on with my career, my heart told me I had one opportunity. I was really fortunate to be in a company that embraced that and didn’t hesitate to say ‘go ahead’. The risk paid off when in 2011 I won a gold medal at the World Rowing Championships in Slovenia.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

The biggest lesson is never assume. It has made a fool of me quite a few times! And it still catches me out from time to time. Never assume that someone has understood what you have said, never assume that you have understood what someone has asked you to do. Never assume that things are going to go the way you think they are going to go.

Never assume that things are going to go the way you think they are going to go.
How do you find your confidence?

I find my confidence from knowing that everyone is winging it. Ann Redgrave said: ‘Everybody is winging it, nobody really knows what they are doing’. It’s true – nobody has a handbook.

What is your chosen significant object?

My world championship gold medal. There are so many reasons that come to mind. First, it’s priceless, it doesn’t matter how much money you have got, you can’t just buy the medal, you have to earn it. Secondly, even though it feels on the day that a lot of people are made world champions, very few people have one, so it’s very precious.
Most importantly, it symbolises everything about who I am and what I believe. It symbolises a lot of teamwork. Even if you are rowing on your own, there is a huge team around you that helped you to get to that point.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I seem to remember that I worried a lot, about things that were not in my control and three months later didn’t matter. That’s my filter at the moment; will this matter in three months, in a year? If the answer is no, then I drop it.