Andre Gaddis, Vice President, Data Analytics at Suncoast Credit Union
Andre Gaddis, Vice President, Data Analytics at Suncoast Credit Union, explains why an agile data methodology has been life-changing and reveals more about his stint as a Disney dancer at the SuperBowl.
Can you describe a typical day in your role as vice president of data analytics at Suncoast Credit Union? A lot of my days are spent in meetings. We’ve moved to an agile approach so during our sprints I meet daily with my team to discuss any roadblocks or issues. I also spend a lot of time on our overall strategy from various perspectives like data science models across various departments, fraud analytics, speech analytics and how we can leverage machine learning/AI over the next 18 months.
How important is business intelligence to a financial services business? Data should be the bedrock of how institutions should drive decisions and understand their next move. What gets lost a lot of the time when speaking on BI is asking the question “So what?”. If you’re not in a position to act on the intelligence it’s completely worthless.
Do financial services businesses make the most of the data they have? Probably not because most institutions underestimate the importance of a data ecosystem and infrastructure. The models, dashboards and algorithms are the easy part. The difficult part is gathering the data in one location to be able to analyze and tell that story.
How could the financial services sector get more from data? By not trying to boil the ocean all at once and solve a specific problem. Use cases should drive what you’re looking to solve. Set your hypothesis and test to see if it’s valid. Review your results, learn, build and test again. Continue this iterative process and adjust as needed.
What’s the most surprising thing data has ever told you? That maths is the most important subject in school and STEM needs to be an extreme focus for our kids and generations to come.
What’s a surprising fact that not many people will know about you? As a kid I was a Disney dancer. Yes, you read that right. I danced in Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, FL in 1991. The one with Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem.
Your session is on the need for agile methodology within data analytics – why is this so important?
In most data analytics departments in institutions it’s somewhat chaotic, because every request is ad-hoc and the data is centralized. That’s a huge bottleneck and it’s nearly impossible to be proactive and build to solve problems you see vs taking orders from departments on data they probably don’t really need and don’t even understand how to act on. Moving to an agile format gives the department more control of the task they plan to complete within their monthly sprints and drives the train and dictates what will be completed not the department. Your analyst can focus on specific tasks and the leadership can plan proactively to make the best use of the team’s time. It’s been life-changing for us. Analysts feel empowered and don’t feel like hamsters on a wheel. It should be a must for all data analytics departments to increase efficiency and engagement.
What are the first steps businesses in the financial services industry needs to become more agile in their data if they aren’t already?
Find an effective leader to manage the circus. They don’t need to be experts with data but they need to have a vision and be an effective manager of people. That’s taken for granted in my opinion….the people side of managing analysts and data scientists. People don’t leave organizations they leave poor leaders.
What’s your favourite way to unwind?
I’m a huge poker player. If I’m not home having Nerf gun fights with my kids you can find me in a casino playing poker.
If data could give you the answer to one question what would that question be?
Was there really a second shooter on the grassy knoll during the JFK assassination. I’m obsessed with this generation-changing event.
You can hear Andre Gaddis speak in his session Data Analytics & Agile Methodology: Why the Two Must be Married at Chief Data Analytics Officers & Influencers: Financial Services which takes place February 12-13 in New York.