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Data Governance Interview with Kim Woodward – Data Management Summit’s Out of Industry Keynote Speaker

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Kim Woodward, senior director, head of information operations at AstraZeneca, is a collaborative data governance leader specialising in the strategic design, delivery and implementation of global data management and governance practices in the finance and pharma sectors. She has been involved in the design of enterprise data policies, maturity models and data governance operating frameworks and has led the technical and business implementation of data management technology such as reference, master and data quality solutions.

Q: How long have you been working in data governance?

A: For about 10 years now.

Q: Some people view data governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

B: It’s something I landed in! Early in my life I was a data analyst where I always recognised the importance of high value data that’s easy to find; during my career any roles I was in I naturally focussed on the data aspect in order to have confidence in any processes or outputs I delivered.

One role in particular was in headcount management covering data of 8000 FTEs… that’s a lot of people to count, and they rarely sit still. It was this point where governance and oversight, together with the right framework was important so that no matter what the ask was for, e.g. headcount financials, perms vs contractors, number of seats in a building etc, I was always able to give the right number for the right use-case. To get it right it needed data owners, system owners, data flow, lineage, definitions, data quality, etc… my introduction to a holistic data governance viewpoint.

Q: What characteristics do you have that make you successful at data governance and why?

A: Good question, you’ve got to be a little bit of a data geek and at minimum passionate about data – how you develop that is hard to articulate.

For me it’s about collaboration, really understanding the end use-case and working closely with business stakeholders. I wholeheartedly believe (and know) that data governance is an enabler to increase the value of data. Business users, process owners, product owners, business decision makers all need high value data to enable their deliverables to be trusted and drive the right business outcomes.

For example, why build a cool, real-time visualisation tool if the data in it is of poor quality or be unprotected when people gain access to it; people won’t buy into the product as they won’t trust how the tool is utilising data.

So, a data governance leader needs to be someone who collaborates, understands, and listens in order to develop the right environments so that products or services can be used with full trust by its consumers.

Q: Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in data governance?

A: To be honest, I’m very much a ‘learn on the job’ type person, so for those starting out I would recommend you build your networks, find data SMEs, ask to learn from them, and you will be educated with some great tips and stories along the way.

However, if you like a big read then the Data Management Body of Knowledge, fondly known as the DMBOK… it’s like the bible of data.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in a data governance implementation?

A: Scalability and stakeholder engagement. Any framework needs to be scalable across the organisation; it’s not possible to do data governance well in silos, so influencing is critical to ensure that the model can operate effectively across functions.

For implementation your business stakeholders need to support the cause, it can’t be a way of working that is ‘put on them’, it just won’t work that way. Finding engaging ways to bring them along the journey is essential, i.e. how you can bring value to their use-case. The other critical point on scalability is having a good scope, you simply can’t do data governance across everything at once, so what data is most critical for the current business strategy, and start there. Start small and grow.

Q: Is there a company or industry you would particularly like to help implement data governance for and why?

A: A high-end clothing company to get a good staff discount.. I joke! On a serious note, I’ve always fancied getting close to people data (HR) and having good data governance over that.  The reason being is that people are an organisation’s greatest asset alongside data. I’m passionate about people, their health and wellbeing, their talent and development. Having great data for great insights to help grow a high performing and talented workforce would be a great thing to be involved with and aligns to what I am passionate about.

Q: What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in data governance?

A: Engage business stakeholders early, and bring them along the journey with you by allowing them to provide input into the shape and design of the framework. A collection of minds and hearts will grow the right framework for the organisation and generate buy-in along the way.

Q: Finally, I wondered if you could share a memorable data governance experience?

A: The story I would like to share is remembering that it wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t have technology in day-to-day processes. I was visiting one of our country data governance representatives, and there had been some clearance of a storage room at a very old site of the organisation. In it was a huge, old, leather-bound book of life policies, and it had hand-written customer information in it. Some customers would have still been alive today, very old but alive.  It was just a moment, remembering data is everywhere, in any form, the data in that book needed the same attention and protection as any data in any system.  The original source of data.

This interview was originally published on https://www.nicolaaskham.com/

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