Background Circle Background Circle

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Senior Data Leader?

On a Tuesday morning in NYC, Diana sits at her desk, engrossed in a report from the previous week. She has a lot to analyze today and must create an action plan for the coming months.

Suddenly, her phone rings. It’s the lead of the information security team.

“Data breach. Customer info leaked.”

Diana’s heart races. She quickly shuts her laptop and gathers her team. Other tasks will have to wait.

Throughout the day, Diana’s team assesses the damage, identifies the vulnerability, and deploys security patches. She supervises the situation, updating stakeholders hourly.

This is just another day for Diana, a Chief Data Officer at a leading fintech MNC. Every day, CDOs like Diana face challenges that demand a unique set of skills and experience.

So, do YOU have what it takes to be a CDO?

Mapping Out the Role of a Senior Data Leader

Since its introduction, the CDO role has evolved. Today, CDOs can be Strategic, Operational, or Compliance-focused.

A compliance CDO:

  • Enables the organization to be compliant with data security regulations.
  • Optimizes technologies for efficient data management.

A strategic CDO:

  • Drives data-led analytics using AI/ML.
  • Strategizes solutions to support data-driven decision-making.

An operational CDO:

  • Inculcates a data-led culture and mindset in the teams.
  • Optimizes functions and operations using data-driven insights.

“I think the biggest blind spot and the biggest danger for the CDO is- the organization doesn’t actually know what they want the CDO to do.” – Peter Jackson, Chief Data and Product Officer, Outra (UK)

Due to such uncertainties, companies often conflate the CDO’s role with that of a CTO or CIO. Even when hiring a CDO, organizations may lack clarity in defining the role’s responsibilities. As a result, a CDO’s tenure can be short-lived.

A CDO’s role is multifaceted; it lies at the intersection of data, strategy, and leadership.

CDOs are responsible for optimal data management, security, and data-driven insights.

To become a CDO, certain prerequisites are essential:

  • Organizations prefer candidates with advanced degrees in business, technology, analytics, or statistics.
  • Candidates with prior knowledge and a demonstrable understanding of AI, ML, cloud technologies, and industry regulations are highly sought-after.

For instance, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 requires certain US fintech companies to disclose account holder identities in suspicious cases. A CDO in such a company must be familiar with the relevant regulations and be equipped to navigate such landscapes.

However, a CDO does not work with data and knowledge alone…

According to a KPMG report, 72% of CDOs invest substantial time and effort in fostering a data-driven culture. The role demands top-notch leadership, people management, negotiation, and communication skills. CDOs should be capable of taking on challenges, leading teams, and keeping teams and stakeholders aligned in all data-led matters.

In competitive industries, the insights of a CDO play a crucial role in shaping the company’s roadmap. While various factors influence decision-making, the right insights often stem from experience. Truly understanding data, identifying patterns, and forecasting consumer trends typically requires years of experience in the same or a related industry.

Before considering the CDO role, ask yourself:

The Ultimate Data Leader’s Checklist:

  1. How do you stay updated with AI & Data Leadership trends?
  2. How do you extract insights from complex data sets?
  3. How do you align data initiatives with business goals?
  4. How have you fostered a data-centric culture?
  5. Which data technologies do you deem essential?
  6. How do you handle data protection and governance?
  7. What are your strategies for leading data teams and projects?
  8. How do you communicate complex data concepts effectively?
  9. What’s your take on modern data architecture and integration?
  10. How do you prioritize ethics in data practices?

Navigating the CDO Career Ladder Solo? Do This Instead!

Across the globe, there are multiple communities that bring like-minded people together. Coders and developers frequently use websites like StackOverflow, Unity Forum, and Women Who Code to empower one another and share their knowledge.

In the Data Leaders Network, we bring data enthusiasts and data leaders together on a single platform to discuss all things data. With thought leaders, CDOs and aspiring data professionals, our community is the perfect space for engaging in mentoring sessions, networking, staying updated with trends, attending events, and so much more.

If you’re a data professional, apply to join the Data Leaders Network today and access exclusive resources and engage with other data professionals like you. Membership is free but by invitation only. 

Ready to Take the Next Step?

The role of a Senior Data Leader has seen exponential growth since its introduction in 2002. Today, almost 83% of Fortune 1000 companies have a CDO, which is a significant increase from a mere 12% in 2012.

With so many enterprise organizations owing their success to data-centric initiatives, mid-sized companies are actively following suit. The demand for senior data leaders is skyrocketing, and there is a huge shortage of professionals to fill this demand.

If you’re passionate about advancing your career and stepping into a leadership role, join the Data Leaders Network to collaborate with top minds in data and AI. 

Secure your spot here!