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David Hayes, Chief data officer and head of data services, Santander UK

Path to power

 

An economist, turned accountant, turned analyst, turned data professional I moved from the water industry to telecoms and, finally, into financial services in 2001 working for Abbey, then Santander ever since. Knowledge of how the bank works and an appetite to get into the detail of the data in a way that simplifies things for others have enabled me to progress through a series of data roles in the bank, heading up data operations in 2010, becoming CDO in 2014 and recently broadening the role to head up data services across Santander UK from 2018. I am now responsible for the end-to-end of the data service, covering all topics from data strategy, architecture, governance, quality, metadata, engineering, regulation, science, and analytics.

 

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

 

While establishing and building out the new data services function last year has been a clear highlight, I think I have to call out that data allows me to work with a wide range of some of the smartest, innovative, and personally-motivated people that I have ever had the privilege to work with across my whole career.

 

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

 

Get stuck in, don’t be afraid of the detail and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Embrace opportunities, simplify things, and always look for new chances. Do the hard yards and do them knowing that this will help you to appreciate and empathise with the people you will come to rely on in the future.

 

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

 

No, it was much better. 2018 has seen a big increase in my scope as the role has expanded to pick up the end-to-end data service. This has been a big challenge, but the teams have responded really well and we head into 2019 with some great things to look forward to.

 

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

 

2019 is going to be a really challenging year where value from data will become ever more important. The real winners will become those who can truly link value creation to the way data is used to create great products and services for customers. Data will become even more open (despite privacy regulation) and the use of data as the basis for technology innovations that drive value will become increasingly more common. That means that anyone not moving forward in this direction will be at a significant competitive disadvantage.

 

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

 

People are the heart of any data organisation and finding the right people is a real challenge. At a foundation level here in Santander, we have had some great success in recruiting and developing data apprentices using the apprenticeship scheme. We need to build on this, though, and have plans to develop out the full end-to-end value proposition for all of our data people, offering clear career and development paths at all levels, for all types of data role. This is a key objective for us in 2019.

 

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

 

Open banking. This changes the game for banks and, if well adopted, will open up data in banking to a wide range of new providers, in doing so promoting innovation and driving change through data.
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