CDO Matters Ep. 12 | Becoming a CDO with Justin Magruder

December 1, 2022

Episode Overview:

Do you have what it takes to be a Chief Data Officer (CDO) in today’s business landscape?

On the latest episode of the CDO Matters Podcast, Profisee Head of Data Strategy and former Gartner Analyst Malcolm interviews Justin Magruder, the CDO of SAIC Corporation. The conversation begins with a focus on his role as CDO as well as some of the major changes Justin has implemented within his organization to help SAIC become more data-driven.

This includes creating a data office center of excellence (COE) outside the IT organization that embraces a producer/consumer operating model — where it’s the job of the data office to provide data products that meet the needs of its consumers.

The data products — and core capabilities — are managed by a team of product managers within SAIC’s data office. Data serves as a primary focus where economies that efficiently share data are a top priority.  

The discussion then pivots into Justin’s journey to becoming the CDO of one of the biggest technology services companies in the world. According to Justin, “For those who want to become a CDO, who aren’t already in technology, there is hope.”

In fact, Justin did not come from a background in technology, but rather as a Catering Service Manager at a large hotel in New York. Through a long series of choices always leading him back to data, Justin outlines a career focused on enabling companies to become more data-.       

Data and analytics leaders who want to become a CDO — especially those without technology backgrounds — should be inspired by listening to this episode as Justin shares some of his keys to success. Justin stresses the importance of “communicating and collaborating” to anyone looking to transition into a CDO role.  

Key Moments

  • [1:25] The Role of the CDO in Modern Organizations
  • [5:37] Developing a Data Strategy
  • [9:42] Data Commonalities Across Industries
  • [12:03] Finding Purpose in Your Data
  • [14:46] Evangelizing as a CDO
  • [18:58] Treating Data Management as Product Management
  • [22:00] The Significance of Data Sharing
  • [25:02] Starting a CDO Career
  • [30:38] Important Characteristics of a Modern CDO
  • [35:20] The Importance of Communication for CDOs

Key Takeaways

SAIC’s Approach to Managing Data (4:15)

“We help businesspeople get the data they need to do their job — it’s as simple as that. What makes us successful at SAIC is that we’ve been able to govern the intake of data requirements from across the business using very common ‘voice of business’ type approaches, very agile methodologies.”  — Justin Magruder

Implementing a Successful Data Strategy (13:11)

“What [a data catalog] is really about, we have learned, is automation — and how we build a framework where we can have this integrated environment and we can really find out the authoritative source for any given data point at any point in time…so it’s really been rewarding to see how the introduction of data strategy to a technology firm is beginning to have a positive impact on how we do business with our customers and the value we provide to them.”  — Justin Magruder

The Importance of Data Sharing (24:30)

“We realized we can really supercharge some of the work we are doing for our customers if we can do this kind of integration and sharing of information. It turns out we don’t need three copies of the same thing. If we can learn how to share one, it would save us all time and money.” — Justin Magruder

Becoming a CDO (25:50)

“For those people who aren’t already in technology, there is hope [for becoming a CDO]. I started my career after college with a big Fortune 500 company in a management training program, the company was Marriott. I went through Marriott’s management training program and became a Catering Service Manager. How did I get here?…I wound up in New York City for a big hotel…and I began to question how we put together profit/loss statements for my department. I worked with the hotel’s Food and Beverage Director to look at the way we were calculating gross margin and things like that…he said I should go to business school and go into banking. I came out of business school and fell into a technical role.” — Justin Magruder

About the Guest

Justin Magruder is the CDO of SAIC Corporation, a $7.4B Fortune 500 technology integrator at the forefront of enabling the digital transformation of some of the largest government entities in the U.S. He is a pioneer and a thought leader in the field of data governance, master and reference data and data operations, with more than 25 years supporting data operations, leaders and decision-makers to improve business performance through better data management.  

Episode Links & Resources:

Episode Transcript:

Malcolm Hawker

Hi, I’m Malcolm Hawker, and this is the CDO Matters podcast. The show where I. Dig deep into the strategic insights, best practices and practical recommendations that modern data leaders need to help their organizations become truly data-driven. Training for thought provoking discussions with data it and business leaders to learn about the CDO matters that are top of mind for today’s chief data officers. Today we are lucky to have Justin Magruder, the CDO of SAIC Corporation, joining us for our conversation today. I’m excited to talk to Justin about what it takes to become a CDO. If you have aspirations of being a CDO, maybe you’re in a data and analytics role. Today, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re more on the. Business side and you’ve read a little bit about how. To become a CDO I’m. Excited too to question Justin today about that path. What he’s learned, what’s worked for him. What he would recommend. To do the same. I met Justin, maybe was that maybe even about a couple of years ago. I’ve had a professional relationship with them. We’ve talked about some of his bigger data related challenges over those years. I seem to run into Justin to just about all the big CEO related events. I know we were in Boston together recently at a fantastic conference there at MIT. And every time that I’ve ever. Talked to Justin. I feel like. I walk away with more than I. Came with Uh, which is a great way to. Feel about the. Station, and that’s exactly why I just know you’re here today. So first and foremost, thank you so much for taking the time to join us. I look forward to the conversation.

Justin Magruder

Absolutely. Thank you Malcolm. I. Look forward to it also.

Malcolm Hawker

Wonderful, let’s just take. A couple of minutes and if you could just in, could you please just describe your role? And I say I see where you sit in the organization. Kind of what, what? What are parts that can? You’re the key remit of of your role and. And just share a little bit of. Background for our audience would be fantastic.

Justin Magruder

Absolutely thanks Malcolm Seic and Science Applications International Corp. Founded in the late 60s in. San Diego but now headquartered in Reston, VA. We’re a Fortune 500 technology services company. We provide services to our main client, the US Federal government and its agencies and departments. We do some work on the state and local level. A little bit of. Commercial work but. We’re primarily focused on U.S. government. So. Services we provide. Secure Cloud it and data management services. We do quite a bit of custom development. We do a little bit of manufacturing to we build certain. Systems for the US Navy and for NASA and some other important federal aid. CS And we have about 26,000 or so. It’s growing all the time. Employees today about 24,000 of those are consulting to the government as primarily engineers and and related rules and. We you know we work Ontario. On quite a few, quite a wide range of businesses with national security, space, defense and civilian agencies. So we run the gamut. Currently I’m my role is as the corporate Chief Data officer. I report to the corporate Chief Information Officer. I’m a peer of the corporate IT organization, and so I’ve got several or several pillars to that organization. My group is not. T but we do manage some core systems and we develop core systems for the company. But it’s more than the systems our role is and what we’ve really been successful at is setting up and managing enterprise data governance and enterprise data. Governance isn’t what I thought it was 15 or 20 years. Ago when I first. Heard about the term. After having been in technology, it’s not a committee that meets once a month and has lunch. It’s not a, uh. Well, what? It is an act. Of organization that’s focused on standards and policy or policy and standards and procedures and implementing. Solutions to help business people get the data they. Need to do their jobs? I mean, it’s as simple as that. We help people find their data. We help make sure it’s accessible. We make sure it’s integratable and it’s reusable. Sort of those fair principles and so. What has set us apart? I think at SAIC. And this made us, at least for now successful is that we’ve been able to govern the intake of data requirements across the business by using, you know, very common voice of business type approaches, very agile methodologies. And we have moved into the space of managing some of the company’s. Core data systems. So, like many companies, we’ve got, you know, a data warehouse and we’ve got some operational data stores for different purposes and we have a, uh, an infrastructure for managing company data that is coming together quite nicely under this governance umbrella which is. Really helped us to apply some discipline to. The introduction of new technologies and new systems and new. Methods for people in the. Company in the business to get the data. They need to do their work.

Malcolm Hawker

Fantastic, so obviously governance. I heard that I heard some systems as well, which I would assume would be some of the classic data management like maybe data quality, data integration, MDM nodding so that’s a good thing. Beyond governance and systems, do you have any current responsibility related to data strategy? Maybe data monetization? Is that something you’re thinking about what we’re outside of? The kind of core governance focus area are some of the things you may be. Working on as. Well, that you. That you’re able to share, of course, sure, so.

Justin Magruder

I’m in my third year and I’m writing. My third data strategy for the company. It’s an enterprise data strategy. The first strategy we wrote a little over 2. Years ago when I arrived. Arrived was really foundational building blocks. What do we need to put in place to begin this journey? It’s uh, in discussions with my boss and my management team. We’ve agreed this is a journey. It’s never going to end. Data is why we have technology all. We do with. Our technology is pushed data around, including this video. You know we’re actually writing a retention and destruction standard. For video recordings right now, we. Decide how to manage how to automate. The process of retaining certain types of videos and so forth. So strategy is critical. Our new strategy that we’re developing right now and for the next fiscal year is going to be focused on really mastering data that that we’ve been challenged with. Like every organization I’ve been with has been classic domains. You know, I started doing this, Malcolm, we’ve. Talked about it at a. Little bank called JP Morgan in the 90s and we helped develop the companies first integrated reference data service. We called it back then for customer accounts for counterparty account. And really, focusing on those key domains of customers and contracts and programs or transactions and activities. So we’re trying to. We’re thinking through how to really optimize that, because we’ve had some really good results from a number of our kind of recent. Data science E programs to begin to measure and predict, measure what’s happened and begin to predict what we think might happen in the future based upon certain types of events so. So we’re really beginning to move into. Not there yet into that that that. That capability zone where we’ll be able to have some. Data science capabilities and we’ll be able to do some predictive analytics. I want to. Be careful about. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, because there’s so much packed into those. Terms these days. But I think that’s the direction we’re going and our business people and our customers are quite eager to leverage some of these capabilities and that’s the other thing I’m doing. Malcolm I do have. Sort of a piece of my role is to help. Our customers understand how they can best manage some of their very complex and sprawling information requirements. So I’m working with our business development and our account teams to really help some of our very important customers understand the. The benefits of good governance and active governance, the benefits of cataloging and mastering and sort of warehousing and data lakes and data. Lake houses and some of those technical solutions. But the solutions we really want to implement to manage the data what we’re realizing is it’s not about the technology. Well, of course it is, but the technology is all about the data, and so we’re really looking at those outcomes based. Results that our customers need to do what they do for our country best.

Malcolm Hawker

Interesting, particularly when the customer is the government. But then we’re all benefiting, so that’s a rather unique twist. So what about your role? The I assume you went into it and you had a number of expectations about what you thought CDO would do. What are some of the things that have caught you a? Little bit by surprise. That you that you didn’t expect that you didn’t anticipate that that then hopefully you’re a bit more of a pleasant surprise than not.

Justin Magruder

Absolutely well, you know as. You know I came. Out of a career in the financial services business, when I joined SAIC. And I’d spent 25 years with a number of big banks and investment firms and I really had a great time, but. I joined this. Company and this industry of national security, space defense and civilian. Government support services. And it’s actually been. Uh, just a wonderful surprise. The people are amazing. Team has a mission and our mission is more than making money. Banking was cool. I believe in the concepts of efficient markets and capital formation and all the things that we lived and breathed in in the banking business. But frankly, people in that business are cranky. I think things are happy. Like we’re trying to. Do good things and it’s I really enjoy that and I did not expect that and kind of the way I’ve been when. Last time talking. About the way I’ve kind of characterized it to people as I sort of began to realize where I was. Is that it’s a? New language, in part, the nouns are different. We’re talking about, you know the EU. S Navy and NASA and the National Science Foundation. But the verbs are the same. We do the same. Things with the. Data, so we do. You know we catalog things, we master them we. Keep a dictionary. And we try to manage our metadata well. Well, we manage transactions in journals and we aggregate them and turn them into reports and analytics, and so it’s been a really fantastic journey so far and I’m just getting started.

Malcolm Hawker

That that sense of purpose, if I were. To paraphrase you, what I heard is a little sense of purpose here. That wasn’t just monetary that that that sense of purpose is. That’s something that that is. I assume, that that is something that’s kind of sitting in the back of your brain as you’re working through the strategy. Elements here yes, absolutely.

Justin Magruder

You know, and it’s exciting because we had a call and from an account person who has may have read the strategy. They may have. Heard a presentation we did from our. Group, we’ve got a good team of. Communicators on our on the data team. And we hear. Some people will. Say I really. Need something like that for my customer. They really need something like that. They need to understand the value proposition or the business process requirements for a catalog. Why is a catalog important? Now a lot of people when. We started doing cataloging work internally. Thought it was about having a. Nice static glossary of terms. That’s important. It’s that nice to have. People who look. At things and find out what the definition of a term might really be according to someone in the business. But what is really about we’ve learned is automation. And how do we build a framework? Where we can? Have this integrated environment and we can really find out the authoritative source for any particular data point at any time, and we can watch it change overtime and almost a time series view and follow the lineages automatically using the tool and find out the full provenance. You know the full and you really watch the data transform itself. Through the process through the life cycle. So it’s really been rewarding to see how the introduction of. Data strategy to a technology firm is beginning to have, I think, a positive impact on the way we do business with our customers and the value we provide to them. And we have a I was in a call. With our CTO a few weeks ago. And I’d said something in meeting once and he and I were going back and forth about some solutions for our customer and each and then he said, you know, you said that I heard you say that last month. It’s all about. The data and it was. Good to hear that. From the techie, very smart guy and I was glad to hear him recognize that. You know we should. Thinking about the outcomes. And not just about plugging in another, you know technical component. But how do we? How do we make that into good quality data to help support better decisions or better operations? So it’s been. It’s been an interesting journey so far.

Malcolm Hawker

So to the point about your conversation with the CTO. And that’s fantastic. By the way, have having your messages kind. Of echo back But that’s always a great sign that you’re on the right track. How much of how much of your day would you say is kind of playing a data evangelist type role with members of the C-Suite with some of your peers in the technology organization. How much? Of your role. Is selling? I’m paraphrasing now, but how much do you see if your role? Is selling? How important is that then?

Justin Magruder

I was on a call yesterday with my deputy CEO. Sarah was amazing. And we were in a call with a number of managers and leaders in the. And I was she was, you know, talking about something and she began to sort of. Repeat a few of our mantras and she laughed at the end and said you know Justin got. Me drinking the kool-aid. We spent a lot of time developing the messages, but the messages have to be based upon that you know the architecture, that the concepts, the policies and standards 1. Thing we’ve done. And and Sarah has been quite helpful in this. As we’ve been able to. Add data policy to the company’s corporate policies. So that’s something I’ve seen happen elsewhere. It’s not been so much a policy for data, it’s more that all these policies have to respect the the impact they have on data for the company. We have to realize that there is a a value monetization. There’s an interesting disk. But there is value to the data it. Is an asset. And we’re beginning to. Think of our data as products. There may not be direct. Cash flows associated with them, and the reason I say that is coming out of financial services. I was in the business for a while of selling indexes and big money in that in selling analytics to investors and that’s a huge business. We’re not doing that so much, but we are delivering the same kinds of products to data consumers in the company, and we’ve developed a model I’ve been working on this model for quite some time, and I have some debates with my mentor, Doctor John Talbert, who he believes in a supply and demand model. I believe in a producer consumer model, we’re still debating us and the producer consumer model. Producers, they want they want to go through their job done. They want to push the data out and. They want to move on to the next one. The consumers care about quality. So if they. Get a bad product. They need to push back and define the requirements. We’ve decided the role of the CDL or the data office. Let me be clear, it’s not. It’s not the it’s not. The CDL it’s really the deal. That the data offices job is to broker that relationship and to explain to the producer how the consumers needs are not being met. If they’re not being met. And what are the quality requirements they need? That’s the manual piece of the process, but hopefully our job will be to automate those rules so that producers can produce what is. Needed by all the different types of consumers down. Train so, so we’ve really organized our governance program and our entire data strategy around that concept of and and and what we found and what everyone has agreed is that everyone in the company is both a producer and a consumer. Every every organization, every business process HR uses finance data. Finance uses HR data and so forth, so it’s it’s been, uh, you know. Again, it’s it’s part of the journey. It will evolve and change, I’m sure, but I think we. Well, this residence is now reaching into, you know we’ve got 6 or 8 customers now who are working with to develop their strategies to develop cataloging solutions and the mastering solutions and quite a few warehousing or lake housing, reporting and analytics and and. Pre processing solutions as well.

Malcolm Hawker

So I’m struck by this notion of kind of you being the broker purveyor. I think you used the word arbiter of data between the producers and the consumers. And and I love that through especially through the lens of of data as a product, which is maybe a separate conversation for us to have. I don’t want to get down to rabbit. All of that data mesh. There’s some of the the dogmas out there these days, but I am fascinated by treating kind of data management more like product management. And what I heard you just described you. I think one could arguably say. Is the role of a product manager. If data is your. Part OK, so so you.

Justin Magruder

So you know I I’ll mention Sarah one more time, sorry, I hope you don’t mind so it’s just standing up. Our product management organization, so we have a master data management product manager. We have a catalog or metadata product manager. We have a visualization product manager and we’re standing up a biz OPS, product manager and and I’m sure we’ll have many other. Sort of roles in the product space as we evolve, these will change probably by the end of the month. Because we’re in such a dynamic place right now, developing our strategy for the next year. But I think we we absolutely see. The delivery of data products as a core responsibility of this broker. Role in the middle. And I I go to that financial services analogy. You know the way that. The The Wall Street works you’ve got buy. Side and sell. Side the sell side selling stuff the buy. Side’s buying stuff and in the middle you have some sort of exchange. Or some mechanism? We think and. You know this is a bit of a fantasy, Malcolm but. We think that in the long run data. Governance and much of our role should be automated. We think it it if we can develop rules and frameworks. And tools will need people to manage process to monitor, you know, metrics and measure and attribute and repair. But we don’t see a lot of activity do around you know reviews of metadata we can, we can imagine. The world where, let’s say a company uses ServiceNow to manage its process, certain support process. These our developer drops a specification in the service now bucket and the service now bucket checks the catalog to make sure all the attributes that listed in the metadata you know in the list of key attributes are exist and that they don’t exist. Maybe it kicks back an error or tells the developer will finish you know. Finish refining this list of attributes and we can see a world where that’s happening. And you don’t really. See governance, but it’s happening.

Malcolm Hawker

I I couldn’t agree more. I actually got into a number of I wouldn’t call them heated up, but I would call them lively debates during my tenure at Gartner because I, I believe, as you do, I. Actually happen to. Think that a big share of governance can be automated and you get into interesting conversations about. OK, well, what’s governance, but if.

Justin Magruder

You take some.

Malcolm Hawker

Of the examples that you just described. Right, which maybe data quality use case is fit for purpose use case contextually. Then is this the right contextual use of this data? Is this user seeing the right version of this data or you can just data modeling right? Like inherently to me, uh, data definition is. A governess decision. How do I define a customer? Is a governance decision. And I think a lot. That using knowledge graphs using other things that I know you. Guys are working on. You most certainly could automate a lot of that. Do you think that do I think that? We’ll ever be away from, you know, 100. Percent automated, no that that. That’s that’s a bit of a. Utopia, but even more I I, I think that that that absolutely a lot of this can be automated and and I think that. But it all it all stems back. To that, that kind of. Product focus and that deep knowledge of customer needs and the deep knowledge of problems that you’re trying to solve. Because that’s to me, that’s the tip of the. Spear it sounds like you agree.

Justin Magruder

Absolutely, absolutely. And we I mentioned earlier, the voice of business discussions we’ve had and we pulled in a number of our senior business people last fall. And and did sort of dog and pony show of all that we’ve helped each of them prepare a list of their truly strategic business requirements. And we went from the front office through the middle office to the back office of the company. And at the end of each of the presentation at the end of all the presentations, one of the more senior people in the company you know stood up and on. Zoom and and said he said that’s that’s pretty amazing like we all have the same data requirements. We’re just expressing them differently. We’re using all. The same data. And and we just don’t share it very. Well, which is one of our current initiatives to build some some new data sharing and and access control frameworks that you’re doing that all were extremely secure right now. And that’s. Part of the problem we’re so secure. That we learn how to share. And sometimes in in the kind of environments we. Operate in it’s.


Just hard.

Justin Magruder

To do that without investing a lot of time and money and a lot of times, it’s just hard to commit that kind of resource. But I think we’re getting to a place where we realize that we can really supercharge. Some of the work we’re doing for our customers if we. We can do this kind of integration and and and sharing of information. It turns out we don’t need 3 copies of the same thing. If we can learn how to share one. You know that would. Save us all time and money.

Malcolm Hawker

Well, for your customers that’s most certainly relevant absolutely across. The branches of. The government I I my goodness lost opportunities there. So sounds like you’re you’re working to lead by. Example, at least for your customers that. Concern, let’s let’s let’s trace. Back to give you a career arc.

Justin Magruder

So, where where did you?

Malcolm Hawker

Where did you kind of come from? And I don’t mean that physically like exactly, but but you know, typically what we’ll see with videos is either you come from more of a business. Background or a technology background it. Since you generally one or the other, how would you kind of describe your your career arc and and what led you to where you where you are now? I know, I know that you came from the banking world. But if you, if you describe that career arc, just take a minute that I think would be very, very helpful, particularly for an audience that is trying to figure out. OK, I’m a mid career right now and I really want to go this direction. What choices should I be making?

Justin Magruder

Well, for those people who aren’t already in technology. There is hope. I started my career after college with a big Fortune 500 company and its management training program. The company was Marriott and I wondered about training program and became a catering service manager. How would? I get here. I good question I I wound up. In New York City for a big hotel, the biggest hotel at the time in the city. Began to question. The the. The sort of some of the content. No problems, but I’ve been to question how we were putting together profit and loss statements from my department. I was a producer. I was generating revenue for the company. And so I worked with him with the hotels, food and beverage director to look at the way we were calculating gross margin and things like that because I just I thought there were things that we were doing that had bigger margins. Than the company thought we. Did in in the end he agreed. With me, but he said you should go to Business School and get into ranking. So I said OK and I went to Business School, came out of Business School and fell into a couple of well to a technical role I I wanted to get on the Wall Street. I was in New York City and that seemed exciting, so I gotta. A job with that never mind. JP Morgan and. And I didn’t. Know what I was? Doing really I I started to work on their so-called reference data services program as the program manager. I didn’t know what that was. That’s but I was relatively technical. I had this in the 90s and. I had a. Little think. Pad and. You know, I thought I was. The technical one I I was sort of. Kind of back then. And I you know, I found my way through a number of big banks over the course of 10 or 15 years set. Up my own company. Was that an MIT event where we saw each other last week? I’ve been going to that event. As you probably have for 15 years or so and I was at the event and talking with Rich Wong Doctor Wong who runs the program and I said. You know, can I get a? PhD, I had a Masters and MBA and he said. You don’t need one, he said you already know. All this. Stuff, and so I really wanna be HD. And Fast forward six or seven years. Later I asked him. Again, and I said, can I get? A PhD now. He said talked to Doctor John Talbert, so I went over and talked to Doctor Talbert. Wound up getting into a program with Doctor Wong and Doctor Talbert as my as my advisors and mentors and finished up a PhD and and computer science computer and Information science and and you know along the way I had been in. Data specific roles beginning at Morgan in the 90s. I stepped out into more core technology once or twice, but kept coming back to that I. Kept trying to. Get out of data getting pulled back in. But you know, really saw something interesting about the information inside these machines. It wasn’t so much the machines that were interesting, it was. What was in them? What they were doing? And so I had my first CD. Overall, it was actually a data czar for Freddie Mac and was hired there in 2007 as the credit crisis was accelerating and they were realizing management realized they needed some help with data and technology and they hired five or six of us to come down from new. Parking and so that was my. First toe into the federal space and then. As you know, the credit crisis didn’t work. Out so well. For Friday and a few other firms. So I set up my own company and run my own company for about 10 or 12 years and service team member for large global financial firms. Helping them set up their CDL offices helped set up the first Citigroup CDL office. This helped to set up Citigroup or other city offices at places like the London Stock Exchange Group and a few other places. And always coming back to that core operational or active data governance approach to governance again, it’s not a lunch meeting once a month. It’s a you’re. Managing day-to-day operations and making sure that. People get the data they. Need so I you know I had to scrape. My way to find it I I again I really did try to get out of this business several times and then everyone’s 10 or 15 years. Ago that I I actually kind of. Like it, and I’m not bad at it and maybe I could get some education to make it clear that I know what I’m talking about and I’m still. Not sure if that’s true, but.

Malcolm Hawker

Well, if I were to paraphrase with some some things that I heard you say so one clearly you’re inquisitive 2. Clearly you are a learner and and probably one of those lifelong learners I. Would I would imagine. What are some of the other traits that you think that are necessary? For for CD. O and and and and and. Maybe nice to have sure.

Justin Magruder

You know, I’d say. The most important characteristic, Malcolm. I think the characteristic that has made me most successful is communication skills. So for instance, I back in the hotel business. I started buying a newspaper every morning and rereading it on the way to work on the subway in New York City and and here in DC. I was on the metro there for a while and and. It’s become a thing I do every morning. You know, I’m up early and I try to read the paper, you know, and I usually find two or three articles that I send to my boss. And you know, so we can have conversations about things just to kind of keep our relationship open and interesting. And he sends me things, and we had a great relationship. And that communication is critical. So a CEO can operate independently of the CIO and of the CTO. And of the other key operational functions that the so I the communication with my peers and my manager and his managers when necessary is crit. All the other piece that I’ve found to be absolutely. Critical to my success is my team. I couldn’t do anything. Without the team and it is a team, we are a team. They need these shirts for us. That’s a chief data officer. We are. We communicate extremely well. We had a 30 minute meeting this morning talking about Kubernetes and how to design our Azure government Kubernetes cluster for a. Certain use case. And the 30 minute meeting went for two hours and we all skipped and. Cancelled other meeting. Because we were getting things done. And at the same time I’m sitting there texting with my boss and trying to make the case to him that we need Kubernetes, and he’s asking for the business justification, prioritization and is that really just another shiny? So, but communication is critical and I think knowledge is important. You know my knowledge. I tie everything. Back to that first set of systems I helped develop at JP Morgan called the Reference Data Services and which was an early kind of master data concept. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I really didn’t know what I was doing. When I was. Doing it, but when I was done, I saw what we’d accomplished. We pulled together, you know, accounting account management systems across 50 or 75 businesses around the world and one sort of that back. Then we did the hub and spoke for all of our architectures and it but it worked and and it saved the company massive amounts of money and really made our. Operation number in that paradigm I’ve. Sort of I I keep. Thinking back to that paradigm, every place I go through and and there’s one other concept and I’ll go back to my hotel days it’s rotation. It’s in the food business where I was on the food side of. The hotel business and. You’re always rotating your stock. We always walking through every morning to check what’s in. The food store. What’s in the what’s in the fridge? What’s in the bar? The water levels were inventories, so inventory management and managing the the the raw material that you’re going to manufacture into. Data products is critical because it’s the same if you look at it. It’s really a similar process the the food production process is not unlike the data product production process and I so I go back to those I known around me knows that most of the time, but I’m thinking I’m picturing, you know, the food store room in the Waldorf. Story hotel when I’m thinking this sometimes.

Malcolm Hawker

Wilder awesome awesome so thank you so much I I think I I could keep going for another two hours but we don’t have that time. So and with our with. Our last question here. Let’s assume I’m a director or getting analytics. Or maybe I’m a VP of Data and analytics and I, you know, I’ve I’ve got a team 1015. People or so, and I’ve worked my way up the. Chain and I feel like I’m. I’m at the door right of. The CEO role. What would I mean? You’ve already shared some great insights as to, you know what’s worked for you, but if there were one or two little bits of insight that you could give to that director of Data analytics or the VP of Data Analytics wants to make the jump, what would that be?

Justin Magruder

I think it’s pretty easy. Collaborate and communicate. Yeah, and skills are important. Experiences is important, but if you’ve made it to the door you’ve probably got. Both of those things. I’ve I’ve found that communication is critical to my success and when I stop. Things break, people don’t understand why. I’m what my objectives are what the key results I’m looking for are and so I’m constantly repeating myself. I’ve got a few slides I use in every meeting. You want to be to the point where people. No, what’s coming. We don’t surprise anyone. No reason to surprise anyone. No reason to prove how smart I am no reason or my team seems really smart and but we’re learning that we just need to deliver. You know one one step at a time and I guess the other thing besides collaboration and communications. Is the building. I I had. Dinner 1520 years ago with John Zachman who’s a famous holdener, probably the famous enterprise architect and I. I remember 1. Thing John said at dinner. I was so impressed with him and he he said to me and and my buddy we were having dinner with. He said he can’t build the 4th floor first. Not to start with foundation and the first. Floor in the second floor and. So I’ve been repeating that to my boss and my team. You know, probably once a month. I’m probably tired of hearing it, but but we’re we’re building those blocks now we’re. Putting them in place. And so I’d say those are the two or three things that I would impress upon people. But communication and collaboration. You know it’s it’s. It’s really people really want when people want to work together, you get just so much more done.

Malcolm Hawker

Indeed, Sage advice from somebody who is proven that it works. So again, I really just I. Really want to. Thank you for taking the time to come and speak to our audience today. Some great insights on how to become a CEO for those who are there who are catering managers right now and or in the hospitality industry in the travel industry. Here’s proof positive that can absolutely, positively work. So with that again, I want to thank you. Thanks everybody for tuning into this episode of CDO Matters. And I look forward to. Sharing more insights with you in a future episode sometime soon. Thanks everybody.


How can today’s Chief Data Officers help their organizations become more data-driven? Join former Gartner analyst Malcolm Hawker as he interviews thought leaders on all things data management – ranging from data fabrics to blockchain and more — and learns why they matter to today’s CDOs. If you want to dig deep into the CDO Matters that are top-of-mind for today’s modern data leaders, this show is for you.

Malcolm Hawker
Malcolm Hawker is an experienced thought leader in data management and governance and has consulted on thousands of software implementations in his years as a Gartner analyst, architect at Dun & Bradstreet and more. Now as an evangelist for helping companies become truly data-driven, he’s here to help CDOs understand how data can be a competitive advantage.


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