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Top 100 Data Innovator 2022: Absa Group’s Maciej Kaliszka

Maciej Kaliszka, Absa's Head of Analytics for Corporate and Investment Banking, Pan-Africa, shares his key achievements of the past two years and strategic goals for 2022

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

Overall, we managed to showcase the power and value of data and analytics, in partnership with various business areas. This empowered our team to drive data and analytics as a top priority and a key enabler to move our business forward.

Absa has been around for a very long time and previously treated data as an afterthought or a means to an end. But over the last few years, we've successfully installed data and analytics as a value lever we can pull across the entire organization.

The business is now certain that data and analytics is the future and is putting its support into our strategy. This is where the magic happens, a co-creation of data and analytics value across the bank. And if you just think about the size of the organization, getting this type of commitment across such a broad audience, and especially in banking, is a really great achievement.

How are you seeing data and analytics leadership roles evolve over time?

A strategy we put forward some years back suggested that if you want to become a data-led organization, you cannot solely rely on a data team. Everyone needs to be part of the journey. That’s why we launched our data academy; if we want to move forward with the strategy, we need to drive data literacy across the entire organization.

Being involved with business and weaving ourselves into the things that people do every single day has helped. An example of this is the way we’ve helped teams with everyday challenges, from automating time-consuming data consolidation reports to empowering them with new daily insights that they can actively leverage to manage their business. Our teams start small, land the value first, and then move on to the next thing. You build trust by giving colleagues genuinely helpful solutions that support them in their roles.

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

A data journey only works when you listen to the business. But sometimes the steps between understanding what the business needs, building models and giving insights happen so fast, we forget about the people in the process. As data leaders, we need to stop thinking we’re simply solving problems with data. What we should be doing is empowering people with data; that’s the value add. Proximity matters. So, get your data teams as close to the business action as possible.

The maturity of the organization depends on how we land the value. The way we’re measuring that value is that, in every business conversation we have had recently, someone’s asking how a project can be run from an analytics perspective. We've worked very hard to get to this point and now we’re seeing the green shoots in new business areas we haven’t worked with before.

What will your key priorities be in 2022?

This year was about maturing the business data assets we built during 2021. We don’t want to build more without understanding the value that our 2021 data assets are providing to the business.

A new year brings new priorities, we have to make sure we always align to the most important things the business wants us to solve. We’re now going back to what we've built, measuring what value we’ve added and aiming to connect the deployed business data assets together, so we can create a wider data value ecosystem.

Maciej Kaliszka 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.