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Top 100 Data Innovator 2022: RCS Group’s Maritza Curry

Maritza Curry, Head of Data at BNP Paribas Personal Finance South Africa (RCS Group), shares her key achievements to date and strategic goals for 2022 

Would you please start by telling us a bit about your greatest achievements at RCS over the past 12-24 months? 

Over the last 18 months, we have formulated an enterprise data strategy, secured investment, onboarded a dedicated team and delivered our first use cases.  

Our data strategy is all about people – ensuring better customer experience by enabling our BI and analytics community to make better decisions, driven by data democratization and underscored by data literacy. It is incredibly satisfying to see RCS’s data vision starting to come to life and delivering value. After all, data strategies are 1% formulation and 99% execution! 

From an industry point of view, being chosen for this list last year really opened my participation in the industry. It's been amazing to be able to give back and participate in global webinars, roundtables and conferences, because I get the opportunity to share my knowledge, and to learn from others. Virtual conferences have made participation in global events more accessible, and it is exciting to see our incredible data and analytics talent in Africa being showcased. 

How has the data and analytics maturity in your organization evolved in 2021? What new challenges is this giving rise to? And how are you working to overcome them?  

The one major advantage that we have at RCS is that we've always had a really strong analytics community. We’re making great strides in driving a positive data culture and actually building on that community, extending it into the rest of the organization.  

We’ve started an initiative called ‘data bytes’, a community open to everyone at RCS. We have monthly knowledge sharing sessions where we share what we’re doing with data and analytics. In addition, there is an online ‘data bytes’ community where we share data and analytics news and a leader board through which we reward participation in the ‘data bytes’ community. 

One of the most exciting (and unexpected) outcomes of ‘data bytes’ is that it encouraged the data office to partner with other teams, like learning and development and marketing, giving us the opportunity to combine forces to drive our departmental initiatives through collaboration and co-creation. No one is successful on his or her own! 

What advice would you give an aspiring data and analytics leader to help them prepare for the role? 

The skills that are sometimes overlooked are the transformational skills because, by their nature, data strategies are transformational. The skills a data leader needs include change management, empathy, influence and the ability to create, articulate and drive a shared data vision. It’s also important to be a community builder because data and analytics always starts and ends with people.  

What will your key priorities be in 2022? 

The focus for 2022 will be to further establish our data culture and to not only make data and analytics accessible to our community through the right data platforms, tools and education, but also to make participation in data initiatives fun and engaging. However, we will do this in a managed and intentional way, driving data governance as an enterprise competency. 

Maritza Curry is one of our 2022 Global Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics. To discover the full list and exclusive interviews with this year's 'top 100', click here now.