Being A Data Leader

A member of the Rockborne leadership team, Neil.

by Neil Berry

29 Jun '22

With the 2022 DataIQ Award nominations set to be announced tomorrow, Rockborne CEO, and one DataIQ’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Data, Neil Berry, shares his thoughts on being a data leader:


As CEO of Rockborne, and a data leader, I see my role as being very simple; I focus on quality. To me, this means trying to make the right key decisions supported by a great team who have as much autonomy as possible, and  looking to make sure that we only hire the best people.


On the latter point, hiring the best or “right” people doesn’t mean focusing on which university someone attended. “Right” doesn’t mean the fantastic grades they achieved, and it doesn’t mean what gender, ethnicity, or sexuality they are.


“Right” for Rockborne, and I think for any good data leader, means someone who is going to thrive and succeed with our support. Someone with an enquiring mindset, who can articulate complex issues clearly, and go beyond the minimum required to produce the best outcomes that they possibly can, while always remaining focused on quality.


I believe that focusing on these attributes when building a data team is how is you get the very best people from all aspects of society.


The same is true when it comes to leading a business that delivers the utmost value for our clients. If we’ve hired well, our clients will automatically benefit from the quality of the consultants that we can provide, and the long-term strategic support that we can give them.


As a leader, I also belived in the importance of propagating a data-first culture across your business, and ensuring a high-level of data literacy that will allow you to fulfil your agenda and ambitions. At Rockborne, we do this by having every single one of our consultants undergo a rigorous and extensive training programme for 16 weeks, where we cover all aspects of the technical and practical aspects of working with data.


We also focus on the skills required to bring that data to life, to explain difficult technical and often complex outcomes to business stakeholders, to work together to create meaningful insights, and to make sure that is done in a way that respects privacy and the security of that data.


On top of the technical and data know-how, however, I believe it’s important to create an environment where your team can challenge themselves, develop and grow. The experiences that you go through, particularly the difficult ones, both personally and professionally help to shape your attitude towards work and the people you work with, and I think it is essential to have both resilience and tenacity in abundance to be successful.


But, as a leader, I believe that you can’t expect your team to excel unless you lead by example and keep developing yourself. For me, personal growth and comfort don’t easily coexist, and so I think that pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, always having an enquiring mindset, and continually seeking feedback on your performance are the only ways to continue to stretch your boundaries and develop personally, as any leader should always be looking to do.


The DataIQ 2022 Awards shortlist is set to be announced on June 30th at 4pm BST. You can sign up for the shortlist reveal here or take a look at the listing after the fact here.


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