(EMEA) VIDEO | Seek People Who Can Stretch Themselves and Be Creative — Schneider Electric Group CDO

Una Shortt, Group Chief Data Officer, Schneider Electric, speaks with Dave McEachern, Managing Director at AHEAD, in a video interview about acknowledging data as an asset, four golden principles of data governance, data life cycle management, and the approach to hiring and developing skilled data talent.

Acknowledging data as an asset is a turning point for any company, says Shortt, as the discussion begins. At Schneider Electric, she adds, data is at the front and center and the company’s code of conduct is called “Trust Charter,” which ensures commitment to transparency in decision-making.

Adding further, Shortt mentions bringing data-backed decisions and then operationalizing that commitment. With that in mind, the organization changes its data strategy and brings trusted data at scale to the company for all the stakeholders.

When asked about the key pieces in building the data strategy, Shortt shares that the previous CDO paved the way, building the strategy that she is operationalizing. The strategy is built on four governance principles, referred to as the four data golden rules, applied to the entire data supply chain.

Highlighting the data supply chain, Shortt stresses that the organization does not do data for data’s sake. The data is being governed because of the transparency commitments in the code of conduct.

Therefore, it is crucial to make accurate decisions on behalf of the company and understand the supply chain, says Shortt. Further, the CDO exists to operationalize the strategy by linking the decision to govern data down to the business impact it has on the company. That is when the four golden principles can be applied, she adds.

Elaborating on the four golden rules, Shortt mentions the following:

  • Golden rule zero — data risk management, ensuring data security protection and meeting local regulations.

  • Golden rule one — of authoritative sources. It asks questions about the sources of data.

  • Golden rule two —  having a common definition of data across the company, and secure it by defining the very structure of the company.

  • Golden rule three — creating data products for reuse across the company while securing the consumption and access to data.

Shedding light on organizational pain points, Shortt says that Schneider Electric focuses on industrial technology and has two core businesses - energy management and industrial automation. Through those, the organizational mission is to provide energy and automation, digital solutions for customers to make things sustainable for them.

Delving further, Shortt says that the execution of this strategy is backed by data, and the goal is decarbonization and a green future for customers. She stresses that every step of the data lifecycle must be managed to achieve it.

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The complexity in the continuous data life cycle management is the first prime issue, says Shortt. She emphasizes the issue of stale data and how it affects the business directly. Being a data engineer herself, she shares how easily data collection processes can be outdated.

From bad code, to bad SQL, and to broken data pipelines that go unnoticed can have dramatic effects. Shortt says that it is critical to pay back the trust people put in and Schneider earns people’s trust by providing valuable data.

The next challenge she mentions is data protection, having solid knowledge of it, and having people on board who understand this aspect. Furthermore, Shortt refers to data privacy, focusing on data sovereignty, and considers how data is shared across borders.

Then, she pivots to the data ownership challenge and states that it is critical to find someone or a group who can own a specific data set and can define what it is and how to use it to protect data.

Concluding, Shortt says that skilled staffing will always be a concern, because even the best staff in the industry may not have data experience. As a CDO herself, she recalls not being a data expert 20 years ago but had a mentor who taught her everything about data.

To address this issue, Shortt urges organizations to look for potential and people who can stretch themselves, and be creative with hiring. She asserts that organizations must expand their horizons with varied skilled people.

CDO Magazine appreciates Una Shortt for sharing her invaluable insights with our global community.

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