Data Governance Interview - Garry Manser

Another week, another Data Governance Interview and coincidentally another Garry!  This time I was fortunate that Garry Manser agreed to be interviewed.  When I first met Garry his enthusiasm for Data Governance was obvious as well as his determination to succeed in implementing it.  Read on to find out more…


Garry has worked in financial services for over 28 years in a number of different roles. He has been involved with data since 1998 and was introduced to the worlds of governance and quality in 2005. During his career he has worked both in industry and consultancy, across both banking and insurance.

Achievements include introducing and supporting a number of:

·      Successful governance frameworks across organisations both at a local level and on a global scale.

·      Quality initiatives, from the initial monitoring, through root cause analysis and onto remediation, with one role involving introducing circa 200 front end controls to improve data quality at capture.

He is currently involved in embedding a data governance and stewardship network across an international financial services provider, in support of various regulatory requirements and a driven business wide desire to succeed.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

10 years I began with a Data Quality role in 2005 but quickly realised the benefit of bringing the two disciplines together.

How did you start working in Data Governance?

I moved from heading up an analytics team for a major US credit card distributor into an Operational Risk role for a UK Bank. This was looking at the data used in the Basel II risk models and it became clear early on that the quality of data in the models was an important part of the role. A conference and a course later and I was leading a team delivering initially data quality monitoring reports but then remediation, both supporting a team manually and by introducing process changes and front end controls.

What where your initial thoughts when you first fully understood what you had got into?

My initial thought was that this was an easy role, I had a regulatory requirement that needed to be met, I had the support of people above me and I was fresh from an Information Management seminar. Then I found myself being asked to leave a meeting I was presenting at, in a very impolite manner, and I realised that this was going to be tougher than I had imagined. It took me 18 months to get back around that meeting table, by then I had built some success in the organisation and had changed the way I opened my pitch. The positive that came from that was that the person that asked me to leave became one of the top champions of what we were trying to do.

Are there any particular resources that you found useful support when you were starting out?

My first data seminar was hosted by Larry English and I continued to work with him for about two years afterwards, his book “Improving Data Warehouse and Business Information Quality” is still on my desk today. People wise, listening to people like Nigel Turner and Daragh O’Brien speak gave me the confidence that people were delivering solutions. I found the IAIDQ website at the time very useful as well.

What is the biggest Data Governance challenge you have faced so far?

There have been a number of challenges over the years. On one occasion I was doing some initial consultancy for an Asset Servicer which included supporting them in setting up their Governance structure and identifying Data Owners. However due to internal rules we were not allowed to recommend anyone for a role and had to spend time compiling interview questions and then interviewing each senior manager in the supply chain to “help” the right person identify they were the person for the role. Was very satisfying at the end and each person identified had made the connection and understood where they were going. One that wasn’t as successful was writing a data policy and associated standard for a company and the first feedback received was that both documents were 75 pages too short as the company expected policies to be at least 100 pages!

What have you implemented or solved so far that you are particularly proud of?

Introducing circa 200 controls into a bank front end system during 2008. We knew it was the right thing to do, but funding was not available for changes to the system. However one IT colleague found a solution that allowed us to put them into a web front end that mirrored the tool. We put an initial 30 controls in place over a weekend and then came in really early on the Monday to ensure the system still worked. Within days we were being asked to introduce more illustrating the success. It’s also great to see data Governance assignments being extended upon their initial remit, celebrating the success of the work of the people involved. The people side of Data Governance is often forgotten but it just takes one person in an organisation with the right spirit to make a difference. 

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Take your time and remember this is delivered by people, not by policies.

Finally, what do you wish you had known or done differently when you were just starting out in Data Governance?

I wish I had taken time to understand people more and how they would support delivery of both the governance and quality frameworks. I started with regulation, and then policy then eventually talked to people. As I did that I was able to see that anyone was willing to support the initiatives once they understood what the benefit was to them.


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