VIDEO | Grupo Intercorp CDO: How an Entrepreneur Built a Data Community from the Ground Up in Latin America

VIDEO | Grupo Intercorp CDO: How an Entrepreneur Built a Data Community from the Ground Up in Latin America

(US and Canada) Iván Herrero Bartolomé’s celebrated career in data analytics stretches over 17 years and across two continents. Originally from Spain, he now calls Peru home as the Chief Data Officer at Grupo Intercorp, a US$10 billion company. His journey and entrepreneurial spirit drove him to find innovative solutions to companies’ obstacles and develop opportunities where others saw barriers.

This challenge-seeking attitude first led Bartolomé to study Telecommunications Engineering at the University of the Basque Country. Then, after 6 years working for Deloitte in Spain, he moved to Colombia and built his data transformation startup. The company was later acquired by Deloitte Colombia and as a result, he became the leader of digital services and data analytics for its Colombian and Peruvian business units. He was then offered the opportunity to join Peruvian-based Grupo Intercorp as the company’s first Chief Data Officer.

Today, Bartolomé is responsible for the data strategy across Grupo Intercorp, managing over 30 companies in sectors including financial services, retail, real estate, education, leisure and entertainment, and packaging. He speaks with Ben Blanquera, VP with Rackspace Technology and CDO Magazine Global Editorial Board Member, in a video interview about the challenges and stages of constructing a data program from the ground up.

Playbook takeaways:

  • CDOs have to make it easy for business partners to say yes - Identify the barriers and mitigate them
  • Be pragmatic with your investments - Sometimes it’s better to build your platform vs investing in ‘commercial or off the shelf’ options
  • Digital Transformation is less about digital and more about transformation - Transformation is more of a human condition than a technical one.

Building a Data Community from Scratch

When Bartolomé was hired as Intercorp’s first CDO, he recognized several significant challenges from day one, especially the disconnect between how the company’s data was stored in the cloud and how best to integrate that data across its diverse companies.

According to him, Intercorp had migrated some of its data to the cloud, but it wasn't structured to be easily accessible to the business or to be consumed in efficient ways. Bartolomé’s team started to work with two tracks in mind: understanding what the company’s data needs were from the business point of view and then trying to build this from the customer’s view.

While there were some questions about how best to develop a coherent strategy between the corporate team and the business units, Bartolomé says, “We started looking for opportunities to bring value from the different business units and try to match those opportunities to something related to customers and transactions.”

The data team started with Intercorp’s retail unit as its first use case by simply pulling single customer reviews. From that initial step, the team created a model to process those reviews or ‘data flows’ in a more standardized way which was then stored and accessed by the company’s retail business units. The strategy was later rolled out to include similar information related to the insurance and baking units within Intercorp.

Bartolomé adds, “You can use this data to enhance some predictive models, but we also can better understand our customers or work in diagnostic use cases, to try to understand the effects that we're seeing on our different businesses and from a customer point of view. We've been working to make this information usable and easier to interpret and to go from data to insight, to action, at its company level.”

Unlocking the power of a Data Management Platform

Establishing a data model and applying cloud storage at Intercorp was the first step to building a data community. According to Bartolomé, the next challenge was twofold:

  1. Getting top management to ‘buy in’ on the promise of the benefits of a new integrated data management platform
  2. Actually building it

“To make something management doesn’t understand and that they don't value, I knew that conversation was not going to go very far. So right from the beginning, my team understood that we needed to lower the adaptation barriers for everything that we wanted to achieve,” says Bartolomé. In addition, he also acknowledges that asking for US$300,000 each year for a third-party platform for something that was only important for the data team but not important for management, was a barrier that they had to lower.

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Bartolomé set out to build his own platform. He points to having the luxury of time as a huge advantage because the “maturity level at that time was low, so we had a longer timetable to build something which could fit our future needs when those demands arrive.” He also was determined to build a platform that was easy to use, adaptable to the company’s particular needs, and could evolve in time with Intercorp’s changing demands.

Building a Unified Digital Team

Looking back at his first day as the company’s CDO, Bartolomé remembers his small data team focused solely on the banking business and a small traditional business intelligence (BI) group within the company.

Today, Bartolomé has grown the small 17-person team to over 70 staff within Intercorp’s data office. It is structured to include a 20-person corporate team and a data analytics team with differing levels of sophistication within almost every business unit. For example, Intercorp’s pharmacy chains have over 30 people working in data analytics. Other units within the company have started their data analytics programs and currently staff 5 to 10 people, but are on track to scale up.

Bartolomé says, “We are on our way to building these capabilities at the different companies of the group. And the way that we've done this is that we hired people from the central team and then we've been moving these teams through the companies.”


A CDO in any company faces daunting obstacles, none more challenging than getting an entire organization to get on board with the change. For Bartolomé, who came to Peru by way of Spain, it required understanding the Peruvian data community and determining how best to convince a cautious management team of the benefits of data analytics.

He has successfully established a visionary data program at Intercorp by hiring highly skilled Peruvian talent and retaining the most skilled layer of people from the beginning of his project, who are still part of his team. “We've had to find our way through the different obstacles that we found, but it's been an amazing journey,” Bartolomé signs off.

About Ben Blanquera

Ben Blanquera is a Vice President with Rackspace Technology. Rackspace is a global leading multicloud services provider with specialties in Data/AI, Application Development, Security, and Cloud Platforms. Blanquera is passionate about creating amazing business outcomes by leveraging data and analytics. He is on the CDO magazine editorial board and is interviewing global CDOs to gain their insights to create a “playbook” for the industry.

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