Why women are becoming chief data officers


THINK Leaders | March 4, 2016

The THINK Leaders article, "Why women are becoming chief data officers" quotes Russell Reynolds Associates' Justin Cerilli about the driving force behind the rise of female Chief Data Officers. The article is excerpted below.

Recruiters Russell Reynolds Associates recently surveyed about 300 CEOs and CDOs, asking them to rate the top leadership competencies necessary for a CDO – and found that technical skills came in surprisingly low. Their rankings, according to Justin Cerilli, who leads Russell Reynolds’ Financial Services Technology and Data & Analytics practices:

  • Stakeholder management

  • Storytelling and communications skills

  • Vision and innovation

  • Operations and execution skills

  • Commercial acumen

  • Technical skills

“CDO backgrounds are all over the place,” says Cerilli. He estimates about half of CDOs have a technical background, with the others coming from the business side. He also estimates that about half of the people he’s recruited as CDOs have worked as consultants, often earlier in their careers. “When you look at companies that have gone through cultural change, often professional services people have been partnering with them to drive that,” says Cerilli. “That can be a great training ground.”


An evolving role

As the CDO role becomes more widespread, and as data becomes an ever-more important asset to organizations, experts expect the role of CDO to change dramatically. What, exactly, that change might look like is a matter of debate.

Cerilli thinks the negotiation and management skills of many CDOs, combined with their technical acumen, will naturally lead them to bigger roles within technology organizations. “You’re going to see a lot of those people going from data roles to owning all of technology,” says Cerilli.

To read the full article, click here.

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Why women are becoming chief data officers