Data Governance Dream Team

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Since several years now, Data Governance is not such a mystical term anymore, and Data Governance initiatives have been introduced to many Companies around the world. It’s almost cool and sexy these days to say you’re having Data Governance project or team at your workplace. Even fancier if you also have Data Scientists and ML and AI and the unbeatable… Cloud! “These guys must know what they’re doing!

Photo of Ieva Langenfelde

Ieva Langenfelde, Data Governance Manager, Heineken
Ieva will be speaking at the Virtual Data Governance Conference & Master Data Management Summit 15-17 November 2021 on the subject, ‘Data Governance Dream Team‘. She will also be speaking alongside the conference chair, Gerard Bartley on the subject, ‘How to Build, Manage & Enhance a Data Team
The conference is co-located with the Virtual Enterprise Data & Business Intelligence and Analytics Conference Europe.

With that being said, I am still to this day quite surprised how hard it is to find good people for my Data Governance team. And not just my team at HEINEKEN; I have observed this for years now in multiple companies I’ve worked, or heard my friends share similar findings about their Data teams. We’ve been searching for someone for months. Yet 2 average CV’s came in. How can that be?!

The easiest would be to blame HR (we love to blame them, don’t we). If they don’t know what Data Governance is, they don’t know what to look for, and they might filter out the wrong CV’s and reject potential talent because they used wrong key words in their Mean-CV-Cracking-Hiring-Machine. But it would be silly to fully rely on HR to know everything about every role in the Organization.

So that’s when I felt I had to step into the process and get closer to it. I personally made sure that the job ad (ad not posting!) is inviting, exciting, and able to raise interest in potential candidates who read it. I invited to interviews those with no (relevant) experience because I was searching for candidates with the right attitude instead of years of experience in data jobs. “Recruit for attitude, train for skills” is what I follow. In fact, with same approach my boss at that time, Gerard Bartley, hired me!

And not only I wanted to support the hiring process, I also had to make sure that the team I already had, was the best it could possibly be. Perhaps also you have had a situation when you get a new role and get to lead an existing team. You’re not hiring them, you inherit them. And that’s where a lot of fun is, too. You can have so many different profiles!

The Data Enthusiasts who happily work overtime to make it happen, The Data Whatever’s who have been in the job for too many years and they never wanted this but n-th Company reorganization placed them in this role so they stayed, The Data 9-5’ers for whom this is just a job to pay the bills, The Data Nerds who learn SQL in their free time as a hobby while their siblings and friends go horseback riding and hiking and to Thailand, and also the Passionate Data Police Officers who love to run around with their Data Whip and chase those who doesn’t comply to a policy and dare ask for yet another derogation, and so many more. So – congratulations! This is what you get to work with.

It will be fine! It will work out. You just need to find the right approach for everyone and also for them as a team. So let’s make Data Teams great again! Let’s focus on raising their unconditional love for data (for better, for worse; to love and to cherish, until parted by the next exciting job offer). Some might need your help to get more loud and proud of what they do and what they stand for (Good Data Quality! Good Data Quality!). As you know, the Business does not love Data teams that much. To them, this is a bunch of annoying IT folks who only reject tickets and create trouble and disturbance, and keeps on asking to cleanse, cleanse, cleanse.

When your Data team goes to a meeting with the Business team to discuss something about Data Governance, Data Quality, Data processes and Data standards, they won’t later come back to you and smile and say it went really well and that they agreed on something easily. Often, they return deflated and without success. Your job is to give your teams some heavy artillery (sorry but sometimes in data you can only achieve your goals with bazooka) to make sure that actually that is how it went. And how do you do that? By investing in your team. In their knowledge, in their understanding of Data Governance, in their future, and their career. Even if they are external hires, or temporary ones. Like in that saying: “- What if we train them and they leave?… – But what if we don’t and they stay?”

I believe that soon this all will change and having a great team won’t be as hard as today. I, and you, and likeminded individuals, will grow our little Data Dream Teams. They will spread the word how cool their job (and boss, wink wink) is, and then more people will want to work in Data than today. If we do well, we might even convince the process people to move over and become data people, haha! 😊

Join me at IRM MDMDG conference in November at my session “Data Governance Dream Team” and learn my findings how did I get to build mine. They still work with me and love it so I guess you can trust me. See you there!

Ieva is an experienced data governance enthusiast currently working at one of the world’s biggest breweries: Heineken. Highlights from Ieva’s data adventures include: setting up and rolling out a data governance organisation across a large enterprises; driving master data maintenance organisation set-up in terms of processes and people at a newly onboarded operating company; rolling out global workflow tooling, and above it all – keeping senior stakeholders interested (and sometimes even getting them excited) in data.

Copyright Ieva Langenfelde, Data Governance Manager, Heineken

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