“I think there will always be a strong human element”
Meet the UK’s top data leaders. Selected from a shortlist of 530 candidates, these chief data officers, chief analytics officers, data scientists and data governance experts were selected by industry networking and events company DataIQ for their leadership and industry engagement, as part of its annual list of the UK’s Top 100 data leaders.
The UK’s Data Leaders: The Top 10
1) Orlando Machado, Chief Data Scientist, Aviva Quantum, Aviva
“I’m lucky enough to have had a number of roles over the past 20 years, all of which have involved using data science techniques to solve interesting problems.
“A number of factors, including rapidly evolving technology, have led data to become central to just about every big company’s strategy. It has been great to have been part of an industry as its importance has rocketed.
“We’re still just scratching the surface in terms of the ability to use data to solve important problems and the field is moving faster than ever. It’s an exciting place to be!”
2) Prof Daniel Ray, Director of Data, NHS Digital
“I am the director of data at NHS Digital and business lead for the National Data Processing Services and chair the overarching product forum, as well as publications, AI, statistics, analysis and research enablement at NHS Digital for the NHS in England.
“The level of technology software, advanced techniques and utility now available means that we can solve and address problems that previously have been not possible. In health, for example, we are tackling cancer survival outcomes inequality in England looking at survival rates across the country and honing in on variations to understand why.”
3) Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, Information Commissioner’s Office
“It has been a privilege and challenge to regulate the UK’s data protection laws at a time of massive shifts in technology and society. 2018 was the year that data security and privacy went mainstream!
My position as the guardian of both data protection and freedom of information gives me a real ability to help people across the full waterfront of information rights. It is more of a calling than a job and a role in which I can make a difference. Coming from a background of information law practice, rather than management, I really value the opportunity.”
4) Ramneet Julka, Director, customer analytics and research, Barclays
“I’ve been fortunate to have a wide-ranging financial services career, leading dynamic successful multi-site teams and building a breadth of experience in different companies, products and geographies.
My career highlights are centred around whenever me and my team have made a transformational business impact, ie, successfully driving the power of analytics and insights into uncharted parts of the business while creating great partnerships with the senior business stakeholders. And it never ceases being a fantastic feeling to see the positive customer experiences and huge business value you are able to create with good data, an innovative mind and sharp analytics.”
5. Wade Munsie, Chief Data Officer, Royal Mail Group
“The past 18 months have seen an amazing transformation in what data science means and seeing my team grow into one of the best performing teams in the country has been a pleasure to watch. Leading such an inspirational team and watching them grow in strength has been by far the highlight of my career.
“I think that there will be more focus on professionalisation in 2019. Companies that invest in people and process will add an extra layer of assurance for customers and consumers alike. Data privacy and ethics will become even more important and I think we’ll see the ICO stamping down on the cowboys. And I got through talking about 2019 without mentioning Brexit!”
6. Nuala Kennedy-Preston, Chief Data Officer, People’s Postcode Lottery
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career in that every job I’ve had since graduating university to date has been highly data-driven. To my younger self I would say, have a stronger belief in what you do and help others fully understand what you do. Be enthusiastic and try to be as clear as you can when explaining results, champion data and its value to the business. This will go a long way!
“It’s fantastic to see the value of data being recognised in the boardroom. A data-driven approach helps remove unconscious bias from decision-making. I think that, in the next few years, along with advances in technology and development in algorithmic transparency, we will see more data-driven solutions being created and rolled out. We will continue to see people at the heart of data processing. So, I think the next few years will be very exciting!”
7. Anita Fernqvist, Chief Data Officer, Zurich Insurance UK
“2018 far exceeded my expectations. It was both far harder and far better than envisaged. The team really mobilised and built on lessons learned which meant we managed to streamline delivery and absorb significantly more scope.
“I expect the pace of change will keep increasing and, with all roads leading to data, this will need us to think differently and far faster in order to balance the competing demands of keeping the lights on and building for the future. While new technologies continue to emerge, as CDOs we have the challenge of managing stakeholder expectation. In some cases, technology can significantly help, however, this does not replace robust data management and firm foundations. In my view, evolving regulation, organisational structures and business strategies requires an agility with data that requires a focus on the fundamentals.”
8. Scott Joslin, Senior Vice President – Data Strategy, Turner International
“For the most part, 2018 played out as expected. The year began with a sense of urgency around the arrival of the GDPR and the awkward dance between data privacy compliance and innovation was maintained throughout the year.
“Due in part to public concerns resulting from high-profile media reporting of AI advances and breaches of data regulations, more focus on efforts to demonstrate how data and technology enhance human abilities rather than replacing them will emerge.”
9. Lauren Sager Weinstein, Chief Data Officer, Transport for London
“I’m optimistic about the potential for data to be presented in new ways to answer questions and tell evidenced-based stories about the world, so that people can better live their lives and understand how the world works.
I’m excited to learn about how new developments in data science toolsets can be useful for us and to see how others are using new visualisation techniques in this ever-evolving industry.”
10. Paul Ravenscroft, Head of Personalisation and Digital Insights, Walgreens Boots Alliance
“Data and analytics is broad, for example, personalisation, MI, location analytics, strategy, insights through customer research, etc. My advice would be to try and get some experience in as many areas as you can before choosing a focus and always keep a commercial emphasis, work closely with business teams.
“The digital transformation of big data has been huge. Some see more machine-led analytics as the way forward – no doubt it will increase, but I think there will always be a strong human element that together creates a better customer or user experience and more exciting careers for analysts.”