Culture | 4 MIN READ
We caught up with Lee Davies, who joins in the new role of AI Engineering Director. We asked Lee about his career, vision for the role and what colleagues and clients can expect...
Firstly, welcome Lee. Tell us a bit about your career to date and how you arrived as AI Engineering Director at Fresh Egg.
I am a relative newcomer to the marketing world. I completed my undergrad degree at University in 1999 when the web was breaking into public consciousness. I had a degree in Cybernetics, but there weren’t too many roles for Cyberneticists out there when I joined a fledgling Web Design agency. I spent over 15 years creating web applications and, latterly, smartphone apps and was lucky enough to exit with a trade sale to another agency.
After that, wanting to act on my disappointment with how UK politics was going, I joined the Green Party of England and Wales as the Head of Digital to try to effect some change. After three years (and just before Covid), I stopped work to be able to be around for my kids. It was great timing, and I was very grateful to be able to navigate the Covid years with them and be around for all the homeschooling.
Once the world re-opened, I decided I wanted to get into something else, and I joined Anything is Possible, a young Brighton-based media, creative and tech agency, as their Tech Lead. I learned so much about Media and Marketing, but with the wave of AI, I found my interests shifting, so I was delighted that Fresh Egg wanted to explore the possibilities and hire me.
Machine Learning and AI have been central to digital marketing for a long time, but it has been in the hands of big tech players such as Meta and Google. Who sees your ads online has long been a decision AI algorithms make. The new generation of generative AI systems, such as ChatGPT and Midjourney, will now allow us to automate and innovate in the creative aspects of marketing.
Lee Davies, AI Engineering Director
What are some of your biggest successes in your previous roles that you are most proud of?
I don’t know about pride, but I am thankful for having the ability to indulge in my passion for innovation and see many ideas through to fruition, from websites and apps to innovative e-commerce systems, such as paying for your bus via QR codes in an app.
AI is now at the forefront of digital marketing. How do you stay current with the latest digital marketing trends and technologies?
We are so lucky today compared to earlier days in the industry in that most innovation happens in public, and by following companies and individuals on social media, podcasts and blogs, you can keep up with the cutting-edge innovation as it happens. I am a big fan of Benedict Evans, particularly for summarising the significant trends in tech and media. I also enjoy networking and am lucky enough to have many friends who have spent a lifetime in the industry.
What made you choose Fresh Egg as the next step in your career?
The interest that the founders and senior leadership had in the current wave of AI developments. They were willing to acknowledge that this was an area they needed to explore. I think the mindset of explorers rather than experts sums up the current state of play regarding AI in the industry. We are all explorers discovering what these new systems can do to help us and our clients achieve their goals.
What are the biggest challenges businesses face with AI in 2023?
How do you see AI making a difference in digital marketing in the (near) future?
In terms of AI, how do you suggest our clients keep up with the technology?
Well, in the first instance, get in contact with us. We are talking to all our clients educatively and then exploring how AI might help them. We have a one-day immersion session they can book where I will come and spend a day going through a structured introduction to the leading technologies, systems, use cases and risk factors.
What advice can you give marketers on helpful use cases when using AI to improve efficiency?
Start with the low-hanging fruit, for example, copywriting, scripting, and coding. It is excellent for writing things like GScripts for media automation or running audit or maintenance checks against your martech setups, such as a GA4 property.
What do you enjoy most about working in this exciting new field, and what inspired you to pursue a career in AI?
I have always been interested in AI, which stems from an interaction with my old GCSE physics teacher, who handed me a copy of Roger Penrose’s Emporers New Mind. I was fascinated by this all-encompassing book, and it was pivotal in my choosing to study Cybernetics and Computer Science, a subject with a heavy emphasis on AI. I am fortunate that now (almost 30 years later), the field is coming out of academia and making a meaningful impact across various industries. I am excited to be involved as much as I can.
What is your go-to piece of technology that you use daily to help you with your job?
I use ChatGPT every day, and not just at work. Having hooked it up to Siri on my phone, I now use it as the best-educated assistant ever. Me and my children use it to write bedtime stories with them as the protagonists. I use it to answer every crazy question from my seven-year-old's mouth. At work, I now couldn't imagine coding without it by my side, and it makes me a better writer than I have any right to be!
What’s your favourite tech brand, and why?
Hmmm, favourite is a strong word, but I am ensconced in the Apple ecosystem. These days, there is such a benefit to having a tech ecosystem with such integrated features and functionality. It is not that Apple is my favourite, but I currently couldn’t imagine life without their tech. Being able to say “Siri - turn off the TV” from the kitchen when the kids are squabbling is a life changer.
If you could only use one website (or app), which one would you choose?
What do your friends and family think you do for a job?
I love trying to explain, but I am sure most believe that marketing is a very "woolly" field and adding AI into the mix makes it all the more confusing.
What's your go-to hobby out of work?
I don't have much time for hobbies. I am still passionate about using tech to solve problems, so I spend much out-of-work time helping friends and acquaintances get the most out of tech. I also enjoy getting out and socialising whenever possible.
Finally, (the most important question) what is your favourite way to eat an egg? (if there is one)
Good question. It is definitely poached if it's with salmon, fried to within an inch of its life if it's with bacon.