Talent Champion – Danny Gardner

Talent Champion Spotlight

2022 AEF Talent Champion - Danny Gardner

Danny Gardner
Analytics Manager, US & North America Social Intelligence Lead

Danny Gardner is the Analytics Manager, US & North America Social Intelligence Lead at Haleon (formerly GSK Consumer Healthcare), where he is responsible for leading the company’s in-house social intelligence team. While his responsibilities are constantly evolving, he regularly executes social listening, data analytics, and business intelligence reporting across Haleon’s world-renowned consumer healthcare brands, such as Advil, Sensodyne, and TUMS to uncover social media insights at scale for our North American business.

Previously, he held the same role at GSK, where he was acquired from Pfizer as part of the $12B consumer healthcare joint venture between the two companies. Danny began his full-time career with W2O Group (now Real Chemistry), an integrated healthcare marketing and communications agency, where he held cross-functional roles in data science, social listening, market research, and applied analytics.


What prompted you to get involved with the AEF?

The last two companies I worked for were both ANA corporate partners, and we excitedly continue that relationship here at Haleon! I’ve always been passionate about mentorship, whether I’m the mentor or the mentee, I find that you learn so much from both roles. It was an easy choice to volunteer my time to both the AEF MADE and Campus Speakers programs.

Why are you passionate about the future of the industry?

I fell into my role and field by accident, so I really appreciate the interest that social media and more specifically social intelligence generates from the business world. Each year our world becomes increasingly more digital, so the demand for practitioners like me will only continue to increase.

My field sits at the intersection of marketing, big data & analytics, social media, and market research, which all have their own unique heritage; heritage so diverse that there are so many problems to solve and think about. The people a generation behind me are digital natives, and I think that offers a lot of upside when it comes to driving awareness and adoption of next generation technology; applications that don’t even exist yet.

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

That’s a tough one, and a lot of the advice I follow and get from my own mentors isn’t necessarily unique. Don’t be afraid to take risks has really rung true for me the past couple years, which as a risk-averse person isn’t easy to lean-in to. But I’ve learned that with practice and patience risks don’t have to be so scary, and that many of the best risks I’ve taken have been calculated; those where I had a pretty good idea what the outcome would be, i.e., “safe bets”.

The other piece of advice I regularly follow, again kinda cliché but very true, is to be yourself and to be nice to other people. It’s really simple advice too, and I’ve found that by just being my authentic self I’ve become part of communities that appreciate my time, interests, and expertise. When my career is over, I hope people will remember me more for being the cool, sometimes funny, and always willing to help “social media guy”, and less for the reporting, analytics, and methodologies I create. By those standards, I’d consider my career a complete success.

Why do you feel it is so important to inspire the next generation of diverse talent?

I think it’s fundamentally important to invest in the generations behind you, because as time goes on many of these folks will become your friends, subordinates, and coworkers. Why not invest in each other from day 1? It’s a really easy decision for me, and it gives you a chance to really hone your own leadership and people skills.

The AEF MADE program is very well established and to be able to participate each year is such a treat. The students are always incredibly talented and willing to go above and beyond their program requirements to make lasting connections and memories with us mentors. It’s programs like this that not only bridge the gap between academia and the business world, but plant relationship seeds that will blossom over the course of our lifetime. Can’t beat it.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job is very niche in the marketing industry, so I appreciate being a lone ranger, there’s so much room to craft my role into what I want it to be. Despite working in a massive global company my role is very intrapreneurial, in that I am forced to be really scrappy but still have the resources of a larger enterprise.

My role is a unique mix of a typical analytics-role, social media-role, and market research-role, and constantly evolving. My job requires me to stay up to date on digital trends and what’s going on in “internet culture”, which means a lot of social media consumption. This is good and bad, but fundamentally it’s a lot of fun to be able to use both the quantitative and qualitative skillset I have to deliver meaningful impact to our business.

I’m very fortunate to have a job that I truly love and enjoy doing. I may not be at the same company forever, but I can definitely see myself doing some form of social media analytics/insights/intelligence for the rest of my career.

What advice would you give to students as they consider entering the industry?

Be curious and don’t be afraid of the unknown. I’ve found that in my very young career that the discomfort associated with unknowns and ambiguity builds strength and resilience. If you can manage through uncertainty you can manage through anything. Unknowns are just that, you don’t know if they’re good or bad, but don’t let that stop you from finding out; every experience is a learning opportunity.

"Our future marketing and advertising leaders are not just looking for a job, they are looking for a meaningful career that will make a positive impact on society."
— Gord McLean, President and CEO at ANA Educational Foundation