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Is taking a Chief Data Officer role right for you?


The role of the CDO is being discussed more than ever before. Although the role has existed for the past 20+ years, job boards and LinkedIn were not as prevalent, and therefore the role did not have much exposure outside organisations.
When you think of the CDO job title, I think the word ‘data’ would spring to mind for most people, because shouldn’t data be the main driver of most decisions made by the c-suite?

However, it appears to be that the modern CDO is becoming less about pure data, in contrast to other analytics and business intelligence roles who are predominantly technical (refer to my previous blog on the ambiguity of analytics and business intelligence), and more of a holistic role encompassing areas like risk, compliance and even marketing.

Of course, as a senior executive, strategy and operations will play a huge part of the role, as they do in all board level roles however, it may be worth noting the possibility of  the role of a CDO being diluted. If I put myself in a candidate’s shoes, someone who has always had a data driven role and then opts to take on a new challenge of CDO, would they miss the lack of focus in their previous position, or would they welcome the change?

I think the answer is in why the person might take a CDO opportunity. For example, if you have reached a plateau in your role as ‘Business Intelligence/Analytics Director’, and your only means of career progression is to take a CDO role, then you possibly would not enjoy the variety of the role. For others, a route that has direct progression into a more strategic role, that delves away from the pure technical work that was once pivotal to their career may be deemed as a step in the right direction.

So, a question to my network… is the role of the CDO a clear career step for a data professional, and should it stay as an all-encompassing position, or be more data driven?

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