How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Our mission as JCURV is to increase an organisation’s agility so it can thrive in an uncertain world. During 2020, we have continued to support several CDOs with our Datagility proposition, which is encouraging organisations to change radically the way they work with data, “making big data small” to deliver at speed by focusing on business outcomes and working collaboratively across the organisation for these to be achieved. We believe that organisations that are fully leveraging their data assets are creating true competitive advantage.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
Where do I start? 2020 has been tough for everyone, balancing work, personal commitments and the overall wellbeing of the team. My biggest takeaway is that the pandemic has put a new lens on long term planning. It’s important to know what you are striving for (as this was unchanged), however, all the planned activities that sit beneath that significantly changed. Having an agile mindset was so key - we pivoted as an organisation based on the situation and opportunities and our 90-day and 30-day cadence of defining key outcomes helped us immensely to pivot and respond to our clients’ and our communities’ needs.
We found that we were more innovative than ever before, launching a world-first global survey on agile culture using neuroscience techniques. We launched a global mentoring programme supporting over 30 individuals and over 100 charity organisations through the pandemic. We strengthened our Datagility proposition and became stronger as a team.
And, of course, a highlight for us was winning the DataIQ Data transformation of the year award for a second year running for our work with Direct Line Group and its data transformation, as well as the Best new consultancy of 2020 award with the Management Consultancy Association. We enjoyed planning the celebrations of these!
There are so many highlights for 2020. It’s definitely been a test of resilience and I am proud to say we have come out stronger than ever before.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
The demand for data has gone through the roof for organisations and there is no better time to be in the industry. We have all witnessed a real sense of business-level transformation, with data at the heart of many organisations’ responses in 2020. The pandemic has proven that big changes can happen which were previously deemed impossible and are no longer pipe dreams.
The challenge for all CDOs is to capitalise on the learnings and to continue to think big. Leverage investment when all the exec and the board are listening, and ensure that value is extracted from data as rapidly as possible. We are seeing more organisations wanting to deliver “more for less”!
Our role as JCURV is to continually develop our Datagility proposition to ensure we are supporting our clients in the best possible way. 2021 will definitely involve more dataops than ever before.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
One of our values at JCURV is “oneness” - working at one with our clients and the community. As we went into lockdown, it was apparent to us that so many individuals and charities were going through huge challenges, either being furloughed or dealing with huge losses in their income streams to support the amazing causes they strive for.
During 2020, we are proud to have launched the JCURV mentoring scheme and have supported over 30 individuals and over 100 charity organisations throughout the pandemic. We will continue with this during 2021. I will also continue with my personal role as chair of Women in Data. Over the last six years, the community has grown from 125 people to over 25,000 in the UK. 2021 will see Women in Data go global. The highlight is that 16% of senior roles in data are now female versus 3% in 2015. More to do…!
What has been your path to power?
From a SAS analyst working on marketing effectiveness to becoming an exec in banking, I have spent the last 19 years in the financial sector. My career has been a triangle between analytical, commercial and credit risk roles, with an understanding of data being critical to success in each. Over the years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work internationally. You soon realise that data is in fact one language - it’s a story of human behaviour. I love interpreting this by defining actionable strategy for organisations.
I made a big decision in 2018 to leave banking and focus on having a broader impact on organisations and started consulting by joining JCURV as managing director. I’m leading the Datagility proposition, which is encouraging organisations to change radically the way they work with data, “making big data small” to deliver at speed by focusing on business outcomes and working collaboratively across the organisation for these to be achieved.
Over the last few years, I have taken on broader roles in the industry. Along with helping charities, I am also chair of Women in Data (WiD), a not-for-profit organisation that is seeking to achieve gender parity in data and technology roles.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
I’ve loved my career in data and banking and wouldn’t change any aspect of it, always recognising that loyal teams and stakeholders are are all part of the journey over the years. Over the last couple of years, I am proud of pivoting out of industry into the consulting world and of having a positive impact on many organisations, especially after the year we have had in 2020.
Working with the JCURV team, developing an award-winning Datagility proposition is a real highlight. As my dad always says to me, “you are only as good as your last role”. I have definitely learnt the importance of having a learning mindset.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
There are two key goals that get me out of bed each day:
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
The simple answer is that it starts from the top! I am still shocked that 66% of data professionals say that the leading obstacle limiting them in extracting value from data is culture and ways of working!
I truly believe that building effective data analytics functions must combine the behaviours, culture and people, coupled with the right methodology and technical data capability. At JCURV, we call this Datagility. Organisations must align their data and analytics teams to key business outcomes, and create cross-functional teams to focus on the solutions. Focusing on people as well as data is a must!