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Sholthana Begum, head of regtech and data innovation, Bank of England

Sholthana Begum, head of regtech and data innovation, Bank of England

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

 

The Future of Finance report identified how financial systems might change over the next decade. The bank recognises that a new economy, a new world and new demographics demand a new financial system. To this end, based on our findings, we are focusing on five key areas were data and technology play an integral function:

 

  • We are enhancing the payments system for the digital age;

  • We are championing a platform to boost access to finance for small businesse;s

  • We are supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral economy;

  • We are developing a world-class regtech and data strateg;y

  • We are facilitating firms’ use of technology, like the cloud, to increase their operational resilienc;e

 

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

 

The Covid-19 crisis has brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business. One of the consequences of the pandemic, which directly affected my team, has been the dramatic uptick in the use of digital technologies.

 

One of the initiatives we accelerated as a result was the implementation of artificial intelligence capabilities to the entire Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). We were able to go from procurement to go live within nine months - this was an unplanned timescale before the pandemic.

 

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

 

Some of my personal expectations for data and analytics in 2021 include:

 

  • Data to play a more prominent role across more projects and operations;

  • More awareness towards data governance and privacy;

  • Digital skills to be enhance across the organisation;

  • The rise of AI and automation;

  • More virtual collaboration on data practices with external organisations.

 

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

 

Data in undoubtedly a good part of my personal business agenda. I will be working diligently to advance the role data will play in regulation and supervision in an emerging digital economy.

 

What has been your path to power?

 

My career has seen me work across multiple functions within the Bank of England, which has given me the tremendous opportunity to work and learn from a truly diverse workforce.

 

Early in my career, I worked as an analyst in the bank’s foreign exchange and finance divisions. I then made a move towards regulation as a data risk specialist, which saw me progress to a role where I became the data lead for stress testing.

 

Wringing actionable answers out of data and learning about technology to help the bank with its regulatory operations quickly became a passion of mine. This has allowed me to grow into the role of head of regtech.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

 

Collectively I am proud of my team’s diversity and impactful role at the PRA.

 

A recent achievement I am personally proud of is where I was lead editor in collaborating with the FSB to produce a published report on the use of supervisory (suptech) and regulatory (regtech) technology by FSB members and regulated institutions.

 

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

 

Carers UK estimates that about 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers. I am hoping to use my position to better support carers across the organisation and act as a mentor to people with caring responsibilities.

 

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?

 

It is important to align data and analytics closer together, I personally think that in an organisation, a key element to help bring data and analytics closer together is buy-in from leadership.

 

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

 

There are different ways to develop a data culture, but it is important to understand that every organisation is different and the requirements can also differ by industry. However, I believe that new and existing data-driven cultures need to have the senior leadership set an expectation that decisions must be anchored in data.

 

I also believe that to develop a successful data culture, it is vital to fix basic data-access issues quickly, as this can hinder progress. Digital skills are also important; organisations should have the right mix of talent to lead and execute a successful transformation.

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