A-Labs: What it's like doing a student project with L'Oréal Australia
When Lizzy Prosselkova embarked on an Analytics Lab project at L'Oréal Australia, she didn't expect to meet the CEO.
Lizzy had already completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne and worked as an analytics specialist for Carlton & United Breweries when she decided to enrol in the Full-time Master of Business Analytics program at Melbourne Business School.
As part of her studies, Lizzy took part in the A-Labs program to gain practical experience by helping to solve business problems for a real-world organisation. Her student team was assigned to L'Oréal Australia, already a leader in its industry for using analytics. The A-Lab team consisted of Lizzy Prosselkova along with Claire Li and Fan Jia.
"L'Oréal Australia is pioneering the way in disruptive data and analytics in CPG (consumer packaged goods). It was exciting to see the amazing work that has already been accomplished in such a short period of time," Lizzy says.
"I found the A-Lab a truly unique experience in which I had the opportunity to dive into a large organisation with a pioneering analytics team, and apply some of the skills that I learned in class."
Something Lizzy didn't expect when starting the project was just how much support there was for data-driven decision making within the company – and the fact everyone already knew about the challenge she was working on.
"I had the opportunity to work closely with members of the Data Science team and the Consumer Products Division to help develop their demand planning and forecasting methodology," she says.
"Before beginning the project, I found it helpful to meet all the different teams and stakeholders across this project. It was evident that the task at hand was well-known across the organisation and was a high priority. This made me feel more motivated to work on a good outcome.
"Additionally, meeting with the Head of People and the CEO further instilled in me the support that analytics projects are receiving."
Lizzy and the other students on her A-Lab were tasked with finding ways to improve how L'Oréal Australia predicts consumer appetite for its products, or 'consumer-side demand forecasting'.
"Having accurate demand forecasts is a critical part of the supply and inventory management system of many organisations," Lizzy says.
"Especially at L'Oréal Australia, lead-times can be long due to suppliers being overseas, and recent trends have seen major shifts in consumer demand behaviours.
"Approaching this project, it was critical to understand what the current forecasting techniques were and how the company envisioned to improve them. Understanding what a picture of success looks like while setting realistic expectations with all key stakeholders is crucial, especially in a short project timeframe."
Throughout the project, Lizzy and the A-Lab team were supported by mentors from the company as well as their professors from the Full-time Master of Business Analytics.
"In terms of technical analysis, I am grateful to my professors for preparing me with the analytical tools to address the task at hand, and for support throughout in suggesting methodology," she says.
"When it comes to technical recommendations, a balance between complexity and comprehensibility are important so that stakeholders are able to understand the different drivers of variables, and the chosen methods are able to do the task."
During the project, Lizzy also got to see how L'Oréal Australia shares knowledge about analytics across different teams.
"I was lucky enough to attend L'Oréal's Plenary Day where a whole day was dedicated to educating and discussing topics in analytics for all levels of the organisation," she says.
"The support and enthusiasm from all departments was inspiring. People are truly excited to learn more about this emerging field.
"I have prior work experience in the consumer goods industry, so it was very interesting to see the similarities and identify the differences of how other companies are addressing business challenges with the applications of data science.
"From improving consumer demand forecasting, to optimising promotional planning and building inventory management systems, the way analytics can add value to any organisation is truly remarkable."
For more analytics information and research, visit our Centre for Business Analytics page.