What's in this podcast?

This is the fifth episode in our special series celebrating 100 episodes of Hub and Spoken, the original data podcast. 

The role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO), and senior data leadership in general, are a mainstay of discussions on this podcast. In this episode of the Hub & Spoken special series we look back at the conversations we’ve had with some of the industries best up and coming, and also established, leaders. We explore what it takes to become a CDO, along with the demands and responsibilities of the role. We also touch on topics such as imposter syndrome as a blocker to high performance, and what the C-suite cares about when it comes to data.

Listen to this episode on Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher. You can also catch up on the previous episodes of the Hub & Spoken podcast when you subscribe.

What are your thoughts on this data leadership? We’d love to hear from you; join the #HubandSpoken discussion and let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you’re a CDO, or data leader setting the data strategy at your organisation, find out more about the CDO Hub.


One Big Message

The role of Chief Data Officer is a relatively new one, and with it comes an incredible amount of pressure, and responsibility to keep up with all the latest trends and innovations in the rapidly evolving world of data. Because information and best practices change continually, along with heavy workloads, it’s worth seeking support – both professionally and personally – so you can be at your optimum. 

[01:15] Introduction

[02:02] Andrew Day from Pepper Financial Services Group on how to help the C-Suite understand data and the role of a CDO

[09:00] Cara Dailey from Silicon Valley Bank on empathy and leadership as a CDO

[16:00] Ashley Brinegar, CDO at Timet on becoming a CDO, and the strategic thinking that is required to make data fit within the ecosystem of the business

[22:10] Tara Halliday on impostor syndrome especially with CDOs and other C-suite executives

[28:54] Jennifer Agnes, the Managing Director of the Cynozure Group US, on networking and finding the right people to share and gain knowledge from


What skills do you need to be a CDO?

A Chief Data Officer (CDO) is a person responsible for managing an organisation’s digital strategies and investments. The role of a CDO varies from company to company, but they typically oversee the development and execution of an organisation’s overall strategy as it relates to its use of technology. Depending on the size and industry sector, this can be a full-time or part-time position. 

A background in information technology may be helpful for those interested in becoming a CDO;  many CDOs have experience with software engineering, data management, computer networking and other IT areas that are related to their organisations’ current technological needs. However, there are no specific educational requirements for someone who wants to pursue this career path; much like any business executive job title. Therefore ultimately the position of CDO is largely based on meritocracy. 


The demands of the CDO position

The CDO position is one of the most demanding in the corporate world. As CDOs are becoming more prevalent on the business landscape, there is also an increased demand for qualified individuals to fill these positions. 

The responsibilities of a CDO are vast and varied; they must be able to handle multiple demands at once while still delivering results. They need strong leadership skills in order to rally their team around them and keep everyone focused on achieving company goals. While CDOs can come from any background, many times they find themselves coming from the world of technology or engineering.


What the C-suite cares about

At the end of the day, data should be an asset to any organisation. The C-suite in general has many responsibilities and faces many challenges, but their decisions have an immense impact on the future of their company. 

In the C-suite, the most important thing to focus on is making sure the company is profitable. This means maximising revenue while minimising costs and expenses. It’s very easy for a CDO or any other executive in charge of managing a company to be tempted by all of the new ideas about how they can improve their products and services. But really what matters most is whether those improvements will pay off in terms of increased profitability. 

In addition to being financially savvy, it’s also important for data executives to have good communication skills so that they can keep all staff members informed about strategies and goals. In this way, everyone knows exactly what they need to do in order to help accomplish these goals successfully. 


The roles and responsibilities of the CDO 

The demands of the CDO position can be a challenge. The most important consideration is that a CDO has to be able to build relationships with stakeholders in order to manage their expectations and oversee successful projects. They also require a solid understanding of how technology can help improve customer experience, which will ultimately lead them down the path of success. A successful CDO is able to bridge the gap between the technical nature of data and communicating its value to the C-suite.


Taking care of yourself as a leader

There is an incredible weight placed on those who need to make decisions that can impact the lives of other people. 

When you are in a leadership role, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and forget about your own well-being. It’s not unusual to see those in leadership roles become frustrated and burnt out trying to always put in 200% into their role. Taking the time out to care for yourself is essential for personal growth and professional development while also avoiding burnout. 


To summarise

While the role of the Chief Data Officer might be relatively new, it has quickly become an instrumental part of many executive suites across a variety of organisations. Being a clear communicator and good decision maker, always looking to improve yourself both personally and professionally, and surrounding yourself with the right team and support are just a few traits of what it means to be a successful CDO. 


If you would like to review the full episodes of the podcasts included in this special episode, you can find them here:

Episode 42, What the C-Suite needs from their Chief Data Officer, with Andy Day

Episode 60, The hustle of the CDO, with Cara Dailey

Episode 58, Lessons on becoming a Chief Data Officer, with Ashley Brinegar

Episode 86, How Imposter Syndrome Impacts High Performance, with Tara Halliday

Episode 55, Advancing the craft of data leadership, with Jennifer Agnes



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