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VIDEO | Danone Head of Data UK: There's No One Path to a Data Career

(Europe) Amitabh Seli, Head of Data and CDO UK for Danone, speaks with Kensu CEO Eleanor Treharne-Jones in a video interview about his role, responsibilities and career path, the changing role of the CDO, and a CDO’s career progression.

According to Seli, a chief data officer “plays slightly more on the front foot today,” staying close to the business and enabling business strategy. Besides foundations like data governance and quality, Seli sees the CDO driving forward capability, resolving current issues, and making the organization fit for the future.

Seli previously worked in the media and travel industries but switched to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). He focused on improving how the business uses its data within those transitions. He maintains there isn’t a single path to a data career and urges professionals to be brave, bold, analytically minded, and open to embracing data and technology. Seli notes that having a technical background is not an issue. However, professionals should get as much experience, within or outside the data field, in various business functions.

Seli considers analytics as a natural evolution of the CDO’s role. Due to amalgamation and technological changes, organizations can be more analytics-focused with their data. He adds that a CDO's reporting structure depends on the organization's data infrastructure and industry. Seli believes reporting lines do not matter if the individual has a voice and the business has the appetite.

Discussing how his role changed as he transitioned from travel to media — and most recently, to FMCG — Seli says that B2C companies have better data on consumer interactions, and the quality differs. The use of that data and the context around the strategy also vary significantly. However, he concludes that all industries are trying to capitalize on the value of data to create growth and engagement for their customers or clients.

CDO Magazine appreciates Amitabh Seli for sharing his insights and data success stories with our global community.