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Nick Latocha, head of data and insight, Travel Counsellors

Nick Latocha

Path to power

My career didn’t start in data; I got my first “real” job at RBS, confirming foreign exchange trades in its investment banking division. I did, however, have a keen interest in the technology that we used and the processes we were running. This steered me to becoming a business analyst, which is where my interest in data really began.

 

I would find my passion for data in running trade migration projects, making sure thousands of trades were accurately moved between legacy and new systems. Once I was hooked, I started to learn more about business intelligence and reporting and later joined the FX Ops BI Team. From here, I started to make some real changes to how they used data. This is where I ran my first team of BI developers and learnt most of what I know about traditional BI. After spending nine years at RBS, I finally decided it was time to move on to a more challenging role. I joined Travel Counsellors to implement and set up a full data function, including data warehousing, analytics and data science.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I’m extremely proud of setting up and running the Manchester Northern Data Forum. It’s great to be able to host these kinds of events for people in Manchester to meet and talk about data. One thing that has become clear is that we are all facing the same challenges, no matter where we work, but we are just all in different stages. This is why I think groups like this are so useful for all involved.

 

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

It may sound like an obvious choice but Bill Gates. He’s one of the few successful entrepreneurs who have decided to use their wealth for good. I think it’s too easy to think about success and affluence and forget about the greater good.

 

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

Not entirely, 2019 was a year of firsts for me. It was my first time speaking on a panel about data, my first time writing for a popular data science online publication and my first time being a dad.

 

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

The data tech landscape is starting to get exciting and businesses are beginning to embrace data as part of their strategy. This can only be a good thing for the industry and for customers. The more businesses embrace data driven decision making the better the customer experience should be. Combine all this with some of the advanced analytics and AI tech that is coming out and you have some very exciting possibilities.

 

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

I think we are the verge of big changes in AI and data which will see big shifts in business, the economy and society. Whether this will be good or bad, I’m not entirely sure. However, I do hope that data and technology will continue to improve our work and personal lives by continuing to automate and augment what we do. This will give us more time to spend with our family and friends and pursue things that we enjoy in life.

 

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

I don’t see tech as being one of the big challenges in digital transformation. For me it is education and culture. You could have the best tech stack in the world, but without a data-driven culture and education on how to utilise and capitalise from data, it’s useless. If I had to name one challenge, however, it would be shadow IT. There are so many SaaS data platforms now that are easy for people to sign up to – you run the risk of losing the single source of truth and governance.

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