Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Ela Osterberger, VP of Data at WeTransfer

Ela Osterberger is the VP of Data at WeTransfer. Previously she ran the Data Science team at Deliveroo and managed one of Europe’s largest Data Science teams. Prior to Deliveroo she ran the audience data team at the Guardian.

Who is your digital hero?

I recently judged the Drum Awards for the Digital Industries and saw a lot of outstanding digital work. However, one campaign – The Black Elevation Map for Black and Abroad by Performance Art – really stood out for me and won the Grand Prix.  I started looking into the work of the creative agency and immediately got inspired by Andrea Cook, Performance Art’s CEO.

What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?

Throughout her career, Andrea Cook has managed to masterfully connect data and creativity. The work she has been producing with her team shows a deep understanding of technology and combines that with powerful storytelling. The Black Elevation map is the latest example of this. In order to promote travel within the Black community, Performance Art visualized Black cultural data – from historical markers to Black-owned businesses – on an interactive map. The work is visually arresting and celebrates the stories and contributions of the Black community in an incredibly engaging way.

This work, as well as previous campaigns led by her, have won multiple awards. Her impactful leadership and advocacy of women has also been rewarded; she was recognised for “Leading The Charge” in Campaign’s 2020 Female Frontier Awards and nominated for executive of the year by AdAge A-List in 2021. In 2022 she was awarded Campaign 40 over 40. So clearly I am not the only one who is amazed by her!

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

Andrea Cook’s work sets a new standard for digital campaigns. For her it’s not an either\or when it comes to visually appealing brand campaigns or performance focused work. She has proven many times over that both can be achieved simultaneously.

Equally, she understands what data and technology have to offer without chasing the latest trend for the sake of it. Looking at the Black Elevation Map for example, data visualization isn’t the most complex use of data, but how her agency managed to apply it to tell the story is exactly how data should be used – to generate impact that matters.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

After having misplaced my phone during a recent holiday for only a few hours, I realised how dependent I am on having access to the internet at all times. I love my online life.

However, having two young kids, I am becoming more and more aware of how important it is to make it a safe and hate-free space. There are some great initiatives – for example the online safety bill – attempting to force change, but I would love to see some real disruption in this space to make the internet a happy place for all.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

I have been very fortunate to deliver exciting projects in my past roles, but those were all possible because of the brilliant people I have had around me. Personally, I am most proud of seeing young talent grow.

I like to give people opportunities to grow and develop, or fail and learn from their mistakes. Seeing people flourish gives me great pleasure, so I’d say mentoring and coaching has given me the most professional satisfaction.