Data Governance Interview - Lee Edwards

Lee had several years in business operational experience before discovering a talent for data design and modelling in 1997.  As Lead Data Architect for the European Enterprise Data Warehouse she successfully incorporated data from several disparate business types across more than 20 different countries into an integrated data model, supporting the business in fulfilling both Management and Regulatory Reporting requirements

Lee also spent 10 years articulating the need for a cross business data management program, campaigning to gain support and ultimately executive approval for the initiative within the European organisation.

Passionate about Data Management, Lee works to progress the industry through serving as Chair of DAMA UK and VP Marketing and Communication for DAMA International, regularly speaking at local and international conferences and acting as a mentor for chapter members.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

Thinking back, this was when I first started producing management reports on Lotus123 as a clerk umpteen years ago. I was building new functionality to replace paper based reports and the first thing I did was question fluffy or inconsistent definitions with “tell me exactly what this means and how you use it” – of course I didn’t realise then that I was doing DG.

How did you start working in Data Governance?

As a Database Designer and Dataflow Architect I led the analysis for mapping disparate systems from multiple locations to my nice clean conformed streamlined data model. This required much iteration of “how do you know” and “where is the information” and ultimately generated the evidence to justify the requirement for proper DG control.

What were your initial thoughts when you first fully understood what you had gotten into?

I’m not sure that I know that even now! It’s a constant challenge but rewarding when you can make a difference and prove out that your input benefits the enterprise.

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

Probably predictably but I have to say my DAMA colleagues providing both sound advice, education opportunities and personal validation that I was on the right path and gaining control of enterprise data is the right thing to do.

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

The increase of globalisation and having to start yet again persuading a whole new set of people that it is required and the right thing to do. I’ve observed it’s a human thing to want to make it yours and the Not Invented Here syndrome is very real and can be draining. There is a constant need to keep the evidence of wins (costs and time saved, risks avoided etc.) fresh and at your fingertips as new people come along.

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

Launching data for essential daily Regulatory Reporting in 7 months from a standing start. This was achieved by having thorough control and understanding of the data sources used and harmonised in a monthly BI system and reusing rather than starting again. Sounds like the obvious thing to do but it continues to astonish me how little enterprises seem to do this – start again still appears to be the default. 

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

Work on your communication skills, have an elevator pitch ready, learn about different types of people and how to adapt to get your message across. Oh and join DAMA if I’m allowed to say that! I have found the learning opportunities invaluable.

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

That it was DG that I was doing. When I started it didn’t really have a name, if I’d known about the job brand it may have been easier to communicate and perpetuate – but who knows!

Having read my interview with Lee you can also read my free report which reveals why companies struggle to successfully implement data governance.  

Discover how to quickly get you data governance initiative on track by downloading this free report