How CDOs Can Foster and Attract Data and Analytics Talent
Written by Sam Lincoln
VP, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics
Lufthansa Industry Solutions
Head of Group Data Analytics
Group & Data Analytics Officer
Global Head of Data Governance & Analytics
As we approach mid-2022, uncertainty continues to linger, with the global health crisis continuing, geopolitical tensions heightened with the invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and supply chain issues. These factors are impacting businesses and influencing people’s priorities, values and ways of life. This has led to an increased challenge for businesses in hiring and retaining talent. Below we will explore how leaders within the DACH CDO community are tackling this challenge head-on.
What does the current climate look like for Data and Analytics leaders?
This ongoing flux in people's values has contributed to the “Great Resignation,” simultaneously as businesses continue the move towards being data-driven and have a higher demand for skilled D&A talent. This increased demand for talent, in tandem with employees being more selective about where they choose to work, has presented a fundamental challenge for CDOs to overcome.
Some key causes of this turnover and selectivity include increased competition within the job market, compensation or other benefits, the fallout from the pandemic (life changes, stress, etc.), company culture and a lack of flexibility within organisations.
According to Gartner, “Addressing the scarcity of skills and hireable D&A talent is a top existential priority.”
So, how are CDOs tackling this challenge head-on and attracting talent to their business?
Susan Wegner, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics at Lufthansa Industry Solutions suggests that “to attract top talent, it is essential to have interesting, innovative and challenging tasks and to give staff the freedom and responsibility for such tasks.”
Wolfgang Hauner, Head of Group Data Analytics at Allianz SE builds on this, adding that D&A roles must have value and meaning at their core — “I am a strong believer in purpose: Top talent in data and analytics can work anywhere, so organisations must be clear on the value they bring to their customers. An attractive job is meaningful — not only in the data and analytics space.”
Steffen Lange, Group & Data Analytics Officer at Sulzer argues it is about the need to “showcase which challenges top talent get to solve that are unique to their organisation, how their role is linked to the purpose of the organisation and how their role is embedded in a wider community that makes it an exciting place to work.”
According to Naveen Gupta, Global Head of Data Governance & Analytics at Archroma, “As a D&A leader, to attract the right talent for the organisation, it’s important to click with potential candidates and provide a vision and mission about (the business).” When it comes to “the strategy and roadmap, how do you see them fitting in that roadmap and how open are you to adjust the roadmap with new ideas brought in by them?” Naveen adds.
So, it is not just about the role and responsibilities, but how a candidate fits into the business’ mission. This connection to overall business objectives embeds value and worth. Wolfgang Hauner argues that “analytics leaders need to have clarity on their products and customers in and outside of the organisation. When we understand why, what and for whom we create and deliver, it is the best basis to feel connected.”
What can be done to foster talent within your team to create the next generation of data leaders?
Retaining and developing the talent you have is the simplest route to maintaining a robust and effective team. Yet, all of the competing influences driving high attrition, as mentioned above, make fostering and retaining the talent you have even more critical. Creative and innovative approaches are needed to overcome this challenge.
So, what do CDOs think?
Naveen Gupta sees this as a “continuous journey. We have to accept that people who are coming in are much smarter than you in terms of data and technology. Give them the freedom to experiment with guidance. Be open to provide access to them, of depth and breadth of the organisation which will help them understand the big picture and grow strategically.”
Furthermore, Steffen Lange adds “exposure and business value. Firstly, exposure to meaningful business problems and a diverse mix of crucial stakeholders from information workers to C-level (leaders). Secondly, nurturing the ability to link their contribution to the concrete business value generated, which is often underestimated — especially in roles with a tech background.”
Susan Wegner agrees with Steffen’s point on exposure, as “We established peer-to-peer groups to exchange knowledge and innovation projects handled through our seniors.”
Moreover, Susan also suggests it is about showing a clear career path as “we have expertise specifications for each level from Junior to Lead Seniors including (soon) training recommendations for stepping up from level to level.”
D&A experts have a “growth mindset”— they want to learn, grow and develop their skill sets according to Wolfgang Hauner. At Allianz SE, they “foster continuous learning and exchange with high-quality upskilling programs in an internal academy and various formats where they can exchange on important technical topics and developments, such as internal tech-talks and community events.”
It is not just about traditional training and exposure either, as they “also create opportunities for technical (and non-technical) staff to get exposed to different projects, environments (business, technical) and experiences (secondments).”
How do CDOs ensure data is aligned with organisational hiring goals and targets?
CDOs don’t live in a vacuum. It is crucial to understand how CDOs are partnering with other areas of the business to ensure data is aligned with overall organisational hiring goals and targets.
Naveen Gupta believes “this starts with data literacy across the organisation. Once different areas of the organisation understand the importance and need for data, the hiring goals will have a data element in them. For example, approximately 25-30% of functional jobs on LinkedIn have ‘data’ as a hiring element in it. Use these data points to educate different areas of the organisation.”
For Wolfgang, “Data and analytics are closely aligned with our business strategy.” It is about “Simplicity at Scale.” Close collaboration is key when aligning with business objectives as “our project roadmap is developed in collaboration with business experts to make sure our data and analytics assets support the targets we want to achieve as a business. We proactively hire and develop people that help us on our ambitious transformation journey and develop career paths for them.”
Finally, Steffen shares how his organisation has transformed by embedding D&A into its organisational structure to align D&A and the business. They are “on the journey of moving from an IT-centric and centralised delivery model to a federated D&A organisation with ‘forward deployed’ champions directly embedded with the business units. Partnering closely on capacity as well as capability needs and conscious decisions about whether to fill up the pipeline either internally or with external candidates is crucial.”
Special thanks to all participating companies.
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