Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Atlanta CDAO Community

Marcy Cunningham

Head of Information Governance


Marcy is an experienced technologist and business leader whose passion is helping organizations leverage data for impact. Marcy’s background is in technology with a focus in data strategy, architecture, and information management. She has held both individual contributor and leadership roles in data and analytics across various industries, including several years of consulting. 

Marcy is currently the Director of Global Information Governance with IHG Hotels & Resorts, where she helps enable the business in the optimal use of data, while minimizing global privacy, security, and reputational risks associated with data.

Learn more about leaders in the Atlanta CDAO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

Honestly, just following what I loved. I always knew I wanted to be in the field of technology and early on discovered my affinity for data. I had a great opportunity to be a part of a centralized data team at The Home Depot. An early mentor there once told me, “You know your data, you know your business.” 

It really shifted my thinking from focusing on just the data itself to what it was able to achieve for the company. I then spent several years consulting, both for a small local practice and then for Teradata in their Data Strategy and Governance COE. I eventually came off the road to the IHG Hotels & Resorts Global Technology team, focused on our data architecture practice. 

My current role was created in our Business Reputation and Responsibility organization, to address the growing complexity of decisions in the use of our data. It’s an entirely new angle, but continues to allow me to help our business leverage our data to achieve their goals all with appropriate protection in mind.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

The right solution usually lies somewhere between conflicting goals. Never be afraid to listen.

With disruption being a key theme of the past few years, where do you see your role as a CDAO going in the next 1-2 years?

In my opinion, one of the most significant risks to a company in today's world is not fully leveraging data to help them achieve their goals and create a competitive advantage. This requires a level of centricity and focus around data that I don’t believe can be solved without a CDAO.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CDAO?

There is still a lot of ambiguity in this role across different organizations. Don’t go into the role with too many assumptions. Seek to understand the need at your organization.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. My first job out of college was a programmer for The Florida Lottery. So much fun that your job revolved around games, but you quickly learn the importance of a good runbook when they are waiting on you to restore and rebalance the transactions before they can release the winning numbers publicly!
  2. I love the theatre! I played Frenchy from the movie Grease my senior year in high school and have more recently taken up improv at a local theatre in my community.
  3. I met my husband at an out-of-town wedding, for one of his best friends, Andy. Normal, except that I’d lived next to Andy, also my close friend, for 4 years, and never once had been introduced to who would become my husband! I had, however, met his dog Bo on numerous occasions.

What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?

I attended my first Evanta CDAO Summit in Atlanta last December. The range of topics and depth of experience (in data) was unlike anything I’d been able to find. Having both a local and global community is a huge plus for me given my role in the Hospitality & Travel Industry.



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