From One Chief Data Officer to Another - meet Swedbank's David Huselius and Vanessa Eriksson from PwC

Vanessa Eriksson, PwC, och David Huselius, Swedbank

While studies reveal that the trend of the Chief Data Officer in the Nordics have not really taken off as predicted, nevertheless a few recent appointments paint an encouraging and brighter picture of what the future could have in store!   

In my role as PwC’s Chief Data Officer Advisor, I continue my investigation. I need to know whose taking the lead in driving data agendas, what are they called and where are they located? And why aren’t they visible on C-level?!

Join me in my interview with David Huselius, appointed as Chief Data Officer at Swedbank as he shares his journey with us.
 

Vanessa: David, when did you join Swedbank?

David: I joined Swedbank last year from a long consulting/advisory background where most recently, I was in the US.  The Information management organization in Swedbank is relatively new.  There was a Chief Data Officer before me but the role was different then.

Today I have a unit of roughly 25 employees focusing on Data Management with teams working with Data Governance, Data Quality, Meta Data Management, Information Modelling, as well as working within projects and together with the business to ensure that they can effectively transform to reach our desired position.  We have a centralized Data Steward Team that works with the day to day tasks, most of them situated in the Baltics with very strong Data Governance capabilities.
 

Vanessa:  Appointed as Chief Data Officer, where are you located within the organization?

David: I am in the CFO organization and in the unit called Group Business Intelligence. We are responsible for the BI and Data Warehouse environments and services we enable. Right at the beginning, we decided that if I was to take on the Chief Data Officer role and to be able do it well, I would need to have cross back ownership and that I could not act within the boundaries of Data Warehousing.

So we established that quite early, my unit has a group wide responsibility but I still am physically located within Group Business Intelligence where my manager reports to the CFO.
 

Vanessa: What are your main areas of focus?

David: We’ve established a strategy and a target state and in the midst of building our roadmap. There are a number of things we need to get right however short term we have a couple of initiatives that we are executing on, which has to do with information ownership, making sure that we have very clear roles, across the bank in all business areas, i.e. who owns the information. We are also rolling out a Glossary – this is a key as it will enable a lot of other initiatives to be executed in more efficient way.

The other activities are related to regulatory and GDPR, RDA implementations, where we need to categorize our information and tie it up to the Glossary as well. Tool wise and methodology wise we need to understand how to use it by means of the ownership structure.
 

Vanessa: Getting data ownership at Telia was a challenge, how easy or difficult has it been for you?

David: Getting and appointing ownership is a bit tricky but the stars begin to align in the organization and there is a lot of understanding that has come about.  I have a lot of support and since we are well aligned with the bank strategy and regulations, we have them pushing us forward.  So while it may be difficult in individual discussions, more in the lines of ‘I have a lot of work, how do I handle this’ I see those as practical questions that can be dealt with.
 

Vanessa:  Should you put data and analytics in the CDO role?

David: You can, I suppose since there is strong alignment like if you have good control over your data will enable you  to perform and do good analytics but at Swedbank, we split the responsibility.   I focus on the data and my colleagues focus on the analytics – which I might add, works very well for us.
 

Vanessa: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face?

David: I think it’s related to the organizational changes, that we need to work together as a bank. It’s always difficult to change ways of working, to a large extent it comes down to people management.

  • Information ownership / new roles
  • Creating communities in the business areas there is an active discussion around these topics – feeding back to me so that we establish a Data Governance Council type structure where we have and can enable transparency and progress to senior executives but also to have escalation when needed.

A couple of years back the business areas worked in silos not necessarily having the need to exchange information and today coming to a situation where they realize that you ‘have to’ and you’re struggling with ‘how’.  That’s where we can be an enabler in making that happen!
 

Vanessa:  In your opinion, what are the skills needed for a Chief Data Officer?

David:

  • Get your hands dirty and get into the details – this is the way to succeed.
  • Need to have both business and IT understanding and focus or you will drive in just one direction missing the other end.
  • Must have a passion for data!

As soon as we established that I would take on the Chief Data Officer company-wide, there has been just full acceptance from all!

That speaks of the need and the culture of the company, embracing and encouraging towards working for the best of the company.
 

Vanessa: Thank you David! We wish you all the very best too…

Kontakta oss

Alexander Fritsch

Digital Strategy, Data & Analytics, PwC Sverige

Tel 0729-97 26 02

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