Data Governance Interview - Garry Ure

Continuing with the Data Governance interviews, I was very pleased that Garry Ure agreed to share his experiences in this blog.  He is indeed one of the generous members of the Data Governance Community that he mentions in this interview, always happy to share advice and experience.

Garry is currently Head of Data Governance for a leading bank in the UAE. Prior to that he worked in the UK for various banking and financial institutions and in various data management roles.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

I’ve been working in Data Governance in some capacity for just over 11 years; all of which have been in the finance sector.

How did you start working in Data Governance?

I sort of fell into a data management role straight from university (where I’d actually studied photography) and found the subject interesting and challenging enough to turn it into a career.

That first role was actually as part of a support function responsible for the development and maintenance of a ‘single customer view’ as part of a Basel II programme. It gave me first hand experience of a number of Data Governance aspects, from issues of ownership and accountability through to the impacts of poor quality data on different parts of the business.

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

I think I’m still trying to understand fully what I’ve gotten into! I find myself discovering new challenges on a daily basis; whether it’s how to best support the latest business strategy or how to satisfy a new regulatory imperative. There’s no real end to things that need to be understood and given the speed of change in some industries it can be detrimental to make the assumption that you do fully understand something.

Saying all that, my recurring thought is usually “I’m going to need a bigger team” when I see the list of things to do!

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

I did a lot of research online. I got to know who the recognised thought leaders were and bought their books and pretty much stalked them on social media! In the early days I think just asking questions, observing and learning from mistakes were important for me. I always found it useful to have a mentor of sorts in my organisation; someone that was well experienced and could offer support that was not necessarily DG related, but could help me manage the various stakeholders and situations that inevitably come up.

These days people are spoiled for choice in terms of useful support materials; there are various organisations that provide high quality publications on a regular basis and I now struggle to keep up to date with the numerous blogs, white papers, and webinars on the subject of Data Governance.

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

I think my current role has been my biggest challenge so far. Obviously relocating as a family from the UK to the Middle East has it own set of challenges but combining these personal challenges with those associated with building a Data Governance programme from the ground up in a relatively immature (in a DG sense) environment is a real test.

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

Again I think it is my current role is giving me a lot of pride on a regular basis. I think moving the company from zero formal Data Governance activity to a point where we are beginning to see genuine business understanding, interest, and engagement is a real achievement. We have just recently implemented a best in class Data Governance tool and I’ve been encouraged to see the excitement shown from the business at the possibilities it offers us. Hopefully we can keep up the momentum!

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

I think it’s hard to pick just one piece of advice. But I think I’d stress that I find the Data Governance community in general to be a very generous bunch both in terms of their time and their knowledge; there are so many channels now to have direct contact with some of the best thought leaders in the industry. I’d recommend networking both virtually and in person; get on social media and get along to whatever events are happening near you.

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

I’d have made fewer assumptions, asked many more questions and worked harder on ensuring continued business engagement. 

 

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