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Mehul B Shah, chief data officer, BNP Paribas Cardif Pinnacle

Mehul B Shah, chief data officer, BNP Paribas Cardif Pinnacle

How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?

 

As part of a multi-year transformation programme, data was identified as a key enabler to achieve business objectives. In the past three years, we have created a new data department, developed various data capabilities and integrated data into various operational and decision-making processes to improve customer experience, product portfolio and risk monitoring.

 

2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?

 

2020 was quite a challenge as our focus had to shift from building new capabilities to help understand and minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our customers and the business. In the first phase, since the situation was evolving, we had to focus on helping the business monitor the situation on a daily basis, ie, defining and measuring new KPIs which had never existed before. In the second phase, we focused on how we can help our customers in such a challenging time by offering various levels of support. I must admit, it was great to see each and every team member’s willingness to give more than 100% and rising up to the challenge.

 

Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?

 

Looking forward, the business has already defined specific objectives for 2021 and I would expect data and analytics to play a key role as an enabler and decision driver for actions to achieve those objectives. I certainly hope we learn from last year’s challenges that, no matter what constraints we face, there is always an opportunity to create value for the business and society by using data and analytics. I would also like to see more and more processes across the business being data-driven.

 

Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?

 

Yes, for both my personal and the business agenda. Personally, it has always been about creating measurable business benefits. The business has already defined the objectives for 2021 so to maximise the potential of data to contribute to those objectives, we will need to make sure data strategy is closely aligned to business strategy.

 

What has been your path to power?

 

I realised my love for all things data in 2001 when I decided to continue for the advance level data module at university while more than 50% of my cohort decided to leave due to the historical performance statistics shared in the first lecture.

 

I started my career in Sydney, Australia, where I created new suites of data products for the organisation. Since these data products were created by me, I also got opportunities to do pre-sales to clients and demos at trade shows. This made me relentlessly focus on the value proposition of these data products for the various businesses.

 

Over the following 18 years, I had various data roles across media, insurance and electronics sectors. I was fortunate enough to work for a number of national and global businesses in multiple continents, each with fascinating cultural diversity. It was my pleasure to get associated with really talented professionals at Acer, News UK, and BNP Paribas etc.

 

In my current role with BNP Paribas (UK insurance entity), I have successfully built a new data department as part of the transformation programme. I’m proud to have nurtured a talented team and to have built data capabilities such as the data warehouse, data governance and data democratisation tools.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

It’s more academic, I had studied part-time for three-and-a-half years to graduate with an MBA from Warwick Business School. Only my family and I know how much effort and dedication it needed to have a graduation photo with my two children and a certificate in my hands.

 

On the professional side, I feel proud when a business achieves new milestones while I have been part of it. For example, when Acer became the world’s number two computer vendor, with the EMEA region contributing more than 50% of revenue or The Times newspaper turning profitable after over a decade of losses.

 

Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?

 

My career goal is simple: to keep on creating value for business and society, using data in an ethical way.

 

How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?

 

I would say two are very closely aligned for our organisation, as it would be difficult to create the value using data and analytics without it. Once we have proven value to the business, they have been far more receptive of integrating data and analytics. The sector is still not as mature as, for example, the media industry in using data but it is already in the right direction as I see increasing investment and integration of data and analytics at an industry level.

 

What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?

 

For data literacy, if you can explain to stakeholders what the value proposition is for them, then most are able to understand the role data and analytics can play. Once they see data in action, a data-first mindset will follow. So, my suggestion is to find the best use cases around the business, explain the value proposition and then let the data do the talking.

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