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Barry Panayi, Chief data officer, Lloyds Banking Group

Path to power

 

I started my career being a data analyst and writing code and built on those skills as I moved around various companies. My experiences at EY opened my eyes to the massive opportunity in all areas of all businesses of using data and, by that stage, I well and truly had the bug and have worked directly with data ever since. As the role of the CDO became more common, I was in the right place at the right time and got asked to join Lloyds Banking Group which was an opportunity I could not pass up. Our mission of “Helping Britain Prosper” and sheer reach is incredibly exciting, as is our investment in digital and data by the board.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

Being asked to take my current role was a huge honour and being part of Lloyds Banking Group at this point in its history is fantastic.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Don’t doubt the importance of knowing the detail. Lessons learnt in getting hands dirty in data are invaluable and provide direct input to big strategic decisions later on.

 

Did 2018 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

 

I did not know what to expect when I took my current role, so I was expecting the unexpected! Even though I had read about the group’s investment in data, the sheer scale of commitment still blew me away when I joined. Long gone are the days of having to persuade colleagues of the value of data - senior commitment here is unlike anywhere I have seen.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

More bluster around people claiming to be embedding artificial intelligence and machine learning in everything, but still struggling with the basics. I do think the topic of data ethics is an interesting one and can see government and industry collaborating in this space for the good of everyone.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We have a firm commitment to give colleagues the opportunity to up-skill and have invested heavily in this area. I am very focused on getting the balance of internal versus external talent in the team. I have found the clarity of our strategy and visible commitment to data have helped attract good external candidates.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

Despite my glib comment above around AI, I do believe that there are huge opportunities to embed AI in some of the more “mundane” processes and free up colleagues to focus on our customers. Before we, as a society, can fully embrace these techniques and the technologies they will support, I think there has to be more debate around what exactly we mean by AI, what it can and can’t do, and what it should and shouldn’t do.

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