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Caroline Carruthers, chief executive, Carruthers and Jackson

Carolne Carruthers

Path to power

An eclectic mix of things that looked interesting at the time kick started my path to being data cheerleader. I started off as a graduate for TSB, a long time ago, working in the IT department and discovered early on that what I really enjoyed doing was solving problems, so I basically followed the chances to solve bigger and more complicated problems. I was a consultant for IBM and Atos before joining a turnaround team for a failing county council, working on the splitting and merging of the county council with local councils, before returning to the private sector and getting really passionate about data.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

The launch of our first book “The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook”. It meant so much to me because my mum (who has always been my number one fan) was very ill at the time and couldn’t leave the house, so my sisters came from Northumberland and facetimed her through the presentation at Big Data London, so she could feel part of it. She passed away shortly afterwards, but she was incredibly proud, and it gave her a glimpse into all the fun stuff I get up to now. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her.

 

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

My mum, she has been my role model for as long as I can remember. She worked hard, she lived her life to the full and taught me not to listen to other people imposing limitations. Most importantly, even on hard days, she found something to laugh about.

 

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

It was much harder work and much more fun. It was the first year of our consultancy, helping organisations improve their data maturity. I was a little unprepared for the take up of our services and despite having some amazing people working with me still have to put in some stupidly long hours - seven days a week at times - because I wasn’t prepared to comprise on the quality of what we delivered. I think I have got more of a balance now and it was the passion for what we do that made it all worth it.

 

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

Amazing – data is becoming more than a four letter word, it’s not just about governance anymore (although we could still do with some more companies getting their basics right); it’s about driving value and really underpinning what the business can achieve. Not just a recognition that data is an asset but an understanding of how to leverage it fully.

 

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

The possibilities are endless, I think the biggest opportunities are when we get the balance right between how we use data, technology and people. We seem to be at a place where we are fearful of data and technology and what it can do, rather than seeking to understand how we better use it ethically and sustainably. When we unleash our imagination and focus on the future, then nearly anything is possible.

 

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

To sum it up in one word – legacy. It’s more than just legacy IT though, it’s all wrapped in legacy attitudes and behaviours. We spend too much time focused on what we can’t do rather than thinking about what we could.

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