Charles Joseph has recently set up as a data governance consultant, Datazed, following fifteen years working in consulting, compliance and insurance. Charles sees data governance as the foundation of being able to make good data-led decisions.
How did you start working in Data Governance?
It was a journey that looks logical in hindsight, but wasn’t at the time! I started as a graduate consultant at Deloitte, got involved in a project to help the internal compliance team roll out a suite of new systems, and eventually focused on the data that supported those systems. By this point, my three week assignment had gone past nine years!
I was then headhunted for a role at Beazley, which is a specialist insurer in the Lloyd’s of London market, on their data workstream for Solvency II. That was in 2011. At the end of 2016, I decided that I wanted to work for myself and incorporated as Datazed Ltd.
What are your plans for Datazed?
Having spent my working career at just two organisations, I’m really excited to be getting out into the wider world and working with lots of different people to help them with their data challenges and opportunities. This could range from a review of their existing approaches, all the way through to creating a data strategy and managing its execution. Anyone who could be interested in this should contact me via my website or LinkedIn.
I’m also partnering with some software vendors in the data space. What’s really great is that these partnerships are not exclusive, as there is an appreciation that the solution has to be right for the client.
You can find out more about Datazed at www.datazed.co.uk
Are there any particular resources that you found useful support when you were starting out?
When researching for the Beazley role, I realised that I had done a lot of data quality work, but without the structure around it. Ken O’Connor’s blog and Dylan Jones’ dataqualitypro.com were particularly helpful.
What is the biggest Data Governance challenge you have faced so far?
Once we had delivered on the Solvency II work, we naively felt that we could strip off the gold plating of S2 and deliver some really useful data processes to the rest of the business. The almost total lack of buy-in from those other departments made me realise that we had to work much harder on selling these ideas and benefits.
The other memorable challenge was the first time I presented to an audience on the subject of data governance. It was nerve-wracking to expose my own opinions and ideas to people working in the same industry – but it’s an incredibly good way of making sure that you fully understand those ideas and that they make sense.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?
Pick your organisation very carefully. There are many organisations with data teams, but few of these roles are similar when you actually see the job specification.
Look for a manager or leader who, when you meet them, is passionate about what data can do. Then be that passionate yourself.
I learned a lot about data governance from the material shared by experts in the field – I mentioned Ken and Dylan’s websites above, but there also plenty of groups on LinkedIn in our area, some of which have some great insights and discussions. This inspired me to go on and do a few Pulse articles myself.
What do you wish you had known or done differently when you were just starting out in Data Governance?
Periodically, there will be doors that can be pushed open to get good data practices in place. This might be regulatory (e.g. Solvency II, GDPR) or project based (e.g. a Finance Transformation Programme). These opportunities do not come along often, so exploit them as much as you can.