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5 Ideas to Explain the Role of Chief Data Officer to a College Freshman

Written by Corinium

5 Ideas to Explain the Role of Chief Data Officer to a College Freshman

Written by Corinium on Dec 9, 2015 11:12:00 AM

Data and Analytics

In a recent Global Chief Data Officer (CDO) Roundtable hosted by Corinium Global Intelligence, we asked our esteemed panelists: In plain and simple terms, how would you explain the role of a Chief Data Officer? These enlightening responses will help even a college freshman get a better understanding of what the role is really all about.

I don’t think you can come out of college and say ‘you know what? I want to become a CDO’. The path to becoming a CDO is incredibly varied.


Idea #1 by Lorraine Waters, Group Deputy CDO, HSBC

The  CDO  is the person who sets the vision, strategy and roadmap for data  in  an organisation, She is the Executive accountable to the Board and to the Regulator, the person responsible for promoting best-practice and championing quality and innovation, the one responsible for changing the  culture  and  the  go-to  person  or  face  of  data internally and externally.

Idea #2 by Troy Delbridge, CDIO, Private Healthcare Australia

I believe a good CDO is a combination of the following skills;

  • Analyst – understands how to analyse data (methods), has a strong interest in data/information, always wants to learn more from the data/information at hand and is always trying to get their hands on more of it!
  • Communicator – of ideas and concepts, and has the ability to pitch them to all levels within and outside of the organization,
  • Coordinator – can organize and manage people, teams and other organisations to work together well.


Idea #3 by Mark Ramsey, CDO, GSK

A “true” Chief Data Officer has the focus to assure that an organization is driving the maximum business value from data as an asset.  The CDO works with the business to identify unique combinations of internal and external data that enable business value to be unlocked for the organization.  Just like a Chief Marketing Officer is focused on maximizing the value to the organization of marketing activities, the CDO is focused on driving maximum value from the data assets of the organization.

Idea #4 by Ursula Cottone, CDO, Citizens Bank

I think a successful CDO has a perspective of both business and technology. Which means they understand the business, including how it makes money and manages risk. You also have to understand how technology enables and supports the business objectives. So, I don’t think you can come out of college and say ‘you know what? I want to become a CDO.  The path to becoming a CDO is incredibly varied and if you laid out how any of us got here, it would seem crazy! Someone who wants to become a CDO will need to spend time in the business units, as well as in technology.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear career path.

Idea #5 by Brian Bissett, CDO, XL Catlin

It’s a fairly new role, but one that’s rapidly growing in the recognition of its importance. So, it’s hard to say exactly what a CDO does because it tends to depend on what the company needs. For example, some industries might have lots of good data but fewer internal analytical abilities whereas others may have lots of analysts making the best out of whatever poor quality data they can get their hands on. So you have to get the balance right for the organisation you work for.

Having said that, some common themes for CDOs do emerge:

  • Helping set standards, ownership and definitions for data and relationships between data items so that there’s consistency throughout the organisation
  • Demonstrating the level of quality of the data and setting a plan for improvement
  • Evangelising data / being a focal point for all things data – without someone continually pushing the data agenda the data can quickly become stale.
  • Raw data tends to be dull by itself. It’s what you do with it that counts! So, helping transform raw data into useful insights that lead to changes in business behaviour and a competitive edge is often very exciting.

Hear more from other leading Chief Data Officers as they share their insights on the most pressing issues facing CDOs today. Download the CHIEF DATA OFFICER ROUNDTABLE: THE NEXT FRONTIER FOR CHIEF DATA OFFICERS HERE.

Chief data officer roundtable

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