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The Top 100 Innovators in Data and Analytics 2018

Tom Redman

Profile Images (40)What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I focus on data quality and bad data is getting in the way of everything, from basic operations, to decision-making, to analytics, to artificial intelligence. It is so exciting when people address data quality properly. So empowering! And it unlocks the potential the data offer!

What led you to your current role?

I've only had two real jobs: I started at Bell Labs and would have stayed there forever. But AT&T was imploding and hanging out my shingle was the natural next step. That was over twenty years ago.

Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced you, can you tell us about them?

Those clients who've had the courage to attack data quality pro-actively have taught me so much. They are too numerous to name! An "unexpected" mentor was Sarah Cliffe, who is Executive Editor at HBR. She started me down a path of learning to communicate in simpler, more powerful ways. This in turn sharpened my thinking in everything I do

Can you describe to us a current project/transformation you are working on?

I'm focusing on data quality for machine learning. The excitement around ML is so high, and so are the data quality requirements. Unfortunately, most data is simply not up to task. There is considerable media attention around bias, which is essential. But the quality issues go much, much deeper.

What has this project taught you?

Success depends on both the data and technology. And people are fully aware of "Garbage In, Garbage Out," but they are drawn to the tech side and don't pay data it's due. It is really tough to break that mental lock. Actually, this is a recurring theme throughout my career.

What excites you most about the future?

"We" (meaning all of us) have the possibility of creating economic growth; making the world freer, more equal, and safer; and solving some really important problems (like health care). It is going to take a lot of work, but the world could be a far better place, for all of us.

If you could give 1 piece of advice to someone looking to start a career in data & analytics, what would it be?

Learn all the time, from as many people as you can.

Follow me on Twitter: @thedatadoc1

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