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6. Elaine Priest, group chief data officer - data and analytics, Royal Bank of Scotland

Elaine Priest

Path to power

I have broad experience of data and technology, with an excellent track record in driving both commercial and functional performance and delivering large scale change.

 

I started my career as a trade assistant, asking questions on what “good” looked like ensured that I delivered it to a high standard. Over the years, I have found that listening and being naturally inquisitive has helped to ensure that the strategies and plans I’ve built deliver to the high standards I expect of myself and the team. Central to this is spending time with my team, either as a mentor or coach, to ensure that the full team can take progressive steps along their career journey. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed mentoring outside of my direct team and externally – seeing people reach their potential is incredibly satisfying.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

At the beginning of last year, I was also asked to take on the additional role of chief building official at the RBS’ Southend campus. The role is designed to ensure the safety and welfare of our 2,000 staff at the campus and our positive contribution to the local community; it covers HR, risk, front line, fraud, technology, payments and data and analytics.

 

I have championed the launch of employee led networks in the region, and have successfully launched Women’s, LGBTQ+ and Enable (disability) with further networks planned in 2020. This has had a positive impact on staff. As the second biggest employer in the region, we have continued to support schools through our out-reach programme and fundraising for local charities.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

There are ten people who are on my internal board of career influencers. They have been chosen due to their wisdom, tenacity, problem solving, bravery and humility. I meet with all of them individually at least once a year, and some every day. Included on my board are members of my own family, as well as senior executives across several firms.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

2019 was a great year, and we achieved what we set out to do, significantly improving our data quality and launching new data ethics principles.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

Data usage will continue to be a focus and the recent publication of the financial services regulator’s data strategy demonstrates that data remains central to any institution’s success. Further industry moves into digital will only be enabled by strong data and analytics strategies and delivery.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

The biggest opportunity is to positively impact economic, sustainable and green agendas. Firms will no longer be measured on financial performance alone.

 

What is the biggest tech challenge you face in ensuring data is at the heart of your digital transformation strategy?

My career has touched “bleeding edge” technology numerous times; the key to success is to understand the purpose and integration strategy. Today’s challenge is to ensure that there is the right balance between technology, culture and values.

 

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