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Organizations are only just getting to grips with the strategic importance of data. They are recognizing the value of a Chief Data Officer beyond governance and technology. Here is a template job description for recruiting a Chief Data Officer.

Do you need a Chief Data Officer (CDO)?

Is data key to the future success of your organization? If the answer is yes, then a senior person should have responsibility for data as a strategic asset. Whether it is part of the CIO’s or the CTO’s role or a dedicated executive, the responsibilities and challenges remain the same. I have seen this role evolve over the last 15 years as I have helped organizations with their data strategy.

The Chief Data Officer’s role is a challenging one: driving innovation and growth while resolving future job ambiguity and entrenched company cultures. The CDO must have broad technical understanding coupled to an experience delivering commercial business models, and the soft skills needed to inspire and effect change.

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Where does the CDO report into?

The CDO’s reporting line depends on the role of data itself in the organization. Is it strategic, tactical, or in transition?

  1. STRATEGIC:  At LinkedIN, data is fuel for the business as the raw material, the finished products, the sales, support and marketing. Data is the strategic asset, so the CDO should be sitting at the table with the CFO and COO.
  2. TACTICAL: As a mining company, Rio Tinto generates huge volumes of data from mines and plants, geological studies, autonomous vehicles and operational systems. Data is critical to the efficiency of the business, but it is in service of a value chain dedicated to processing ore into finished products. The CDO would report into the COO or CIO.
  3. IN TRANSITION: Furniture retailer IKEA generates product, supply chain, store operations and customer data. IKEA’s bet on smart home technology moves data from supporting the value chain activity to being very much part of it. The CDO would report into the CEO, COO or Chief Product Officer.

If the current role of data is tactical, then the CDO should report into the executive team. If strategic, then the CDO would sit on the executive team. For an organization in transition, then the CDO requires a strong sponsor to overcome legacy thinking.

CDO Job Description


Chief Data Officer’s mission is to help the organization leverage data as a strategic asset. The organization’s digital maturity will dictate priorities across three areas: catch-up with respect to data governance and security; build infrastructure and mindset; or commercialize the data.

  1. CATCH-UP Fixing legacy problems to bring the organization’s data assets up to date in terms of compliance and access
  2. BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE Providing a platform for data and A.I. driven growth while resolving any remaining friction points
  3. COMMERCIALIZE Undertaking a digital transformation where products and service offerings leverage data and AI as core components


Address Legacy Data Issues

Identify and resolve legacy problems to update compliance of and access to organization’s data assets

  1. Inventory the organization’s data asset
  2. Create the data catalog, meta-data, and business glossary
  3. Establish basic data standards
  4. Audit compliance with respect to any regulations, especially privacy / data protection
  5. Establish basic enterprise wide governance
  6. Ensure a robust and sustainable set of access controls
  7. Document the data life-cycle processes, identify and fill gaps
  8. Provide visibility to stakeholders of available data within the organization
  9. Lay foundations for a digitally enabled organization

 Establish infrastructure, governance and mindset

Providing a platform for data and A.I. driven growth while resolving any remaining technical and emotional friction points

  1. Establish information asset management best practice (data management standardization, utilization, and quality)
  2. Bridge business and technology and moderate enterprise data requirements
  3. Create a governance framework and steering committee, making it a strategic matter
  4. Define roles and responsibilities related to data management, train data stakeholders fostering a data protection culture
  5. Establish and lead Data Governance Steering Committee
  6. Collaborate with legal, biz ops, compliance, BI, and info sec cross-functional processes and correct ownership of data
  7. Provide leadership over GDPR, CCPA data governance compliance ongoing, with respect to customer data
  8. Own and manage data validation processes, resolve weaknesses and manage risks

Digital Strategy Execution

Championing the digital transformation of products and service to leverage data and AI as core components

  1. Undertake a digital transformation where products and service offerings leverage data and AI as core components
  2. Sponsor and champion enterprise data strategies, data asset valuation and the data P&L(include data supply and demand chains)
  3. Define strategic priorities for development of information-based business capabilities
  4. Establish and govern an Enterprise Data Roadmap to include internal processes, commercialization and investment
  5. Implement a data quality framework to establish standards, controls and associated metrics for all dimensions of data quality (accuracy, completeness, consistency, integrity, reasonability, timeliness, uniqueness, and validity)
  6. Identify new business opportunities pertaining to the use of information assets
  7. Own the strategy for monetization of data across group properties and the development of data products
  8. Own the vision for and creation of both an internal admin view of consumer data, and consumer facing preference center
  9. Determine where to cut costs and increase revenue based on insights derived from data


Executive Experience

  • Data roadmap program oversight
  • Executive data-driven strategies
  • Effectively communicate the status, value, and importance of data collection to executive members and staff
  • Driving change and providing consultation for senior business leadership and executives

Data Science Experience

  • Building and leading data science organization or practices
  • Managing data science and machine learning
  • Implementing business intelligence and data analytics systems
  • Commissioning complex data pipelines
  • Partnering with data scientist in software engineering environments
  • Design, development, and validation of descriptive, predictive, prescriptive, and applied analytics

Governance Experience

  • Data governance and data governance process management
  • Data quality analytics monitoring and evaluation
  • Knowledge of relevant applications, big data solutions, and tools
  • Knowledge and expertise of US/EU privacy laws, including GDPR and CCPA (PIPEDA a plus)
  • Managing internal controls and security audits, including SOX, PCI, ISO 27001 and SOC-II

Analytics Experience

  • Advocating for data analytics value across a business and to diverse audiences
  • Conducting structured business analysis and generating well-defined requirements
  • Employing of contemporary data management and maturity assessment frameworks
  • Proficiency in data classification for security, usage, protection, and enterprise communication
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