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He-Yu Hua, head of data management, Aegon

He-Yu Hua

Path to power

“Moral is to the physical as three to one.” I use this quote by Napoleon Bonaparte as a powerful maxim to remind myself that with relentless energy, spirit and drive you can overcome almost every obstacle and create opportunity out of nothing. This is my path to power.

 

I started my career at Deloitte Consulting as a management consultant within the Technology Strategy & Architecture practice, forging a passion for data, architecture and top-tier consulting. At Deloitte, I successfully helped C-suite executives navigate complex data transformation journeys - shaping and driving their data and analytics agenda.

 

After over three years going through the consulting ranks, I felt it was time to move on and I joined the chief architect and data management department of ABN AMRO in the summer of 2018. This gave me the opportunity to structurally inject thought leadership, accelerated performance and delivery excellence into the bank’s ambition to become a data-driven organisation. At ABN AMRO, we believe in creating a seamless data and analytics delivery experience, empowering our business to quickly turn data into value.

 

(Editor’s note: He-Yu moved to his new role at Aegon in May 2020.)

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

Being promoted to vice-president in just over 12 months within ABN AMRO. I am proud that I have been able to make a difference and an impact that matters in such a relatively short period of time within the bank. One of the key highlights being the design and successful enterprise-wide implementation of a comprehensive data management framework. Through leading data and analytics capabilities we are empowering our business to unleash the power of data, tackling our most pressing data challenges of today and creating the data-driven bank of tomorrow.

 

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

Ryan Holiday, hands down. His books on stoicism are packed with invaluable knowledge, wisdom and inspiration from the ancients. Reading and revisiting his books keep me centred, balanced and energised in order to charge ahead and realise my personal and professional goals.

 

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

In many ways, yes. Going beyond all the buzz, data literacy is really taking off. Organisations start to realise that becoming a truly data-driven organisation takes a Herculean effort. Within our own journey, 2019 was the year where we forged a rock-solid foundation by building 22 leading data and analytics capabilities. The key lesson that I learned - more so than ever - is that in order to win in data you need to run a marathon, not a sprint. It takes sustained and unwavering commitment from each and every one within the organisation to hold the line when things get tough.

 

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

I think 2020 will be an exciting year where data and analytics will be further pushed to the mainstream business user. Emerging trends like augmented data management and analytics, graph technology, and commercial AI will further fuel the democratisation of bold technology to create a seamless data and analytics delivery experience. All these trends play a critical role in order for organisations to usher in a new decade where everyone is able to quickly turn data into value.

 

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

We are really at the cusp of a new era where the Law of Accelerating Returns really kicks in. This law (coined by Ray Kurzweil) states that the rate of progress in any evolutionary learning environment (driven by trial-and-error feedback loops) increases exponentially. Exponential technologies are giving us unprecedented tools to tackle our planet’s most pressing challenges in, for example, health, food, energy, security, and water. Our biggest opportunity lies in de-monetising and democratising these powerful technologies and putting them into the hands of the billions of people around the globe to make a lasting imprint on humanity.

 

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

Igniting your data transformation journey starts with creating a movement - it is all about people. Getting the right people with the right mix on board (and retaining them) is extremely important and incredibly hard. Data is endlessly complex and only with really talented, experienced and passionate people who are able to make the difference are you able to win the long game. Also, getting a winning culture in place is by no means an easy task. I always say that technology you can solve instantaneously with cold hard cash. The right culture is hard to forge—and easy to lose.

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