3 Ways Data Governance Leaders Can Promote Their Careers

Seeing data governance functions pigeonholed into compliance and data security responsibilities drives me a little nuts.

First, it misses the key business value proposition of data governance, which should be on helping people in the organization, customers, and partners leverage data in decision-making in reliable and compliant ways. I advise chief data officers and governance leaders to call the function proactive data governance and focus on data quality, reliability, timeliness, and data trust. These are the offensive aspects of the role as they deliver business value, as opposed to taking a defensive posture and focusing on what regulations and compliance require.

Data Governance Leaders Promote Careers

Second, getting anyone excited about participating in compliance functions is incredibly challenging. Ask anyone working in risk management or security! Data governance wants and needs business participation and seeks to identify data owners to oversee data quality and policies. When leaders don’t position the data governance role for the business value it delivers, gaining supporters willing to take on time-consuming responsibilities is incredibly challenging.  

Attention data governance leaders, you can do plenty to advance your role in the organization and your career, even if your leaders are shortsighted and don’t grasp the business impacts of your responsibilities.

Career checklist for data leaders

Trust me; there are people out there who get it. For example, here’s what Sunil Senan, SVP and business head of data and analytics at Infosys, says about data governance responsibilities.

“Today’s data governance leaders are responsible for more than just data governance and are seen as strategic business leaders,” says Senan. “Successful leaders focus on transforming data management to data sharing, moving from data compliance to data trust.”

So, here are three ways data governance leaders can accelerate their careers.

1. Focus on delivering value, not just compliance

The key first step is a shift in mindset and objectives. Data governance leaders must find people who deliver revenue, operational efficiencies,  or other business benefits from data, analytics, ML, and AI. Treat these people like customers, and demonstrate how data governance impacts their objectives.

“Data governance leaders need a fresh mindset to advance in their careers,” says Myles Suer, #CIOChat facilitator and strategic marketing director at Privacera. They need to think like product managers for data – how to deliver data with substantial business value.”

Suer clarifies what it means for data governance leaders to think like product managers. “This is about making data appropriate for business functions, accurate, and solving real business problems,” he says. “It is also about providing and provisioning data in a non-invasive way to those with an authorized business purpose. In sum, they need to be able to do data offense and defense at the same time.”

Senan says it’s important for data governance leaders to focus on the opportunities and risks of the organization’s AI initiatives. “The surge in AI adoption will need to be supported by a trusted data foundation, strong AI governance frameworks, and models that address trust, ethics, privacy, and compliance perspective,” he says. “Bringing an emerging perspective to AI and data can rapidly advance your career.”

2. Partner with citizen data scientists

Finding strategic partners seeking business value from data and analytics is a top-down relationship-building skill every data governance leader must master. I tell my stories of partnering with the CMO on the data required for a lead gen program in Chapter 7 of my book, Digital Trailblazer.

But the success of the approach I describe comes from a complementary bottom-up approach where I seek citizen data scientists in the marketing department and provide them with tools, training, and best practices.

StarCIO Center of Excellence in Data Science

Data governance leaders – you have citizen data scientists in your organization! They are building dashboards in Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, or another self-service dashboarding tool. Some are data wrangling in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets and doing all the manual and messy work that leads to unmanaged and duplicate data sources.  

I seek out these citizen data scientists and partner with them to establish a citizen data science center of excellence. To advance your career, show how you can democratize and scale analytics across the organization and use these efforts to improve data quality.  

3. Dejargon by focusing on the why, when, and where

One last career recommendation is to learn how to de jargon the technology and practices tied to data governance, data management, and dataops. Review some of my recent posts where I help explain data meshes, data fabrics, and distributed data clouds to business executives and another where I define the machine learning lifecycle.

In Digital Trailblazer, I describe what happens when tech and data leaders can’t explain the technojargon to business leaders. “If I answered the question [with technojargon] to the board of directors, I would be shown the virtual elevator down to the CTO morgue. That is where geeks with ties go when they can’t explain technical concepts in simple language.”

Want to learn more about advancing your career as a data governance leader? One of the free tools I offer is a Career Checklist for Digital Trailblazers, which includes a section for how data leaders can develop their skills and experiences for more challenging leadership roles.

It’s an incredible time to be a data governance leader, but to advance your career, you’ll need to align efforts to business value while delivering compliance as a by-product of strong partnerships and smart collaborations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are moderated and we do not accept comments that have links to other websites.


About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.