Meet Garry, Head of Data Governance

UK | February

We caught up with our Head of Data Governance, Garry, who joined us back in November to look after the design, development, and implementation of the Bank’s Data Governance Framework.

Like many others over the past year, Garry joined us virtually so we wanted to catch up with him on his first impressions, plans for his new role and more generally about Data in the Bank...

Garry - Hi! You joined us in the midst of another Lockdown. How has your first 3 months been at Vanquis?
Interesting. But a lot cheaper than I thought it might be, would normally have spent my first three months buying coffees to get to know people! Teams hasn’t caught up with that yet (maybe I should pitch that to Deliveroo?). It’s strange in that I haven’t met anyone face to face but have been able to have some good conversations and really start to move Data Governance forward. What I have found since joining is a passion to get things done and done in the right way. Data Governance is such a dry (boring!) subject but I have found so many people across the organisation that want to get involved.

What was it that attracted you to Vanquis?
The recruitment process was an interesting one to say the least. I have spent the majority of my career in Financial services and Banking was calling me back. I would say two things drew me to Vanquis, the people I met in the process and the vision, especially the part around putting the customer on the team. We understand the needs of our customer base and look at ways to help them. My role is to help ensure we have trust in the data we have to support them, and ensure our brand goes from strength to strength.

Can you tell us about your role as Head of Data Governance?
My role is very much to protect the Bank’s biggest asset, it’s data. Not from Cyber criminals or scary things like that, more around how it’s used, by whom and when. I will be relying a lot on the Data Stewards network I am building , these are the heroes of the process, very much being the SMEs in each of the divisions who can help me. First task is to design the Data Governance framework, so looking at things like Data Quality, Ownership, Master and Reference Data, and then turn that into a Roadmap and delivery plan. Lots of writing of policies and standards in the beginning and then working with the Stewards to make it reality.

What are your key priorities for 2021?
Records Retention is one, making sure we have the appropriate retention schedules for VBL in place, but then ensuring they are complied with. Also working with the Data Stewards on the Framework, ensuring that the rollout is not too cumbersome on people’s workloads but we are moving forward to make data more trusted.

What makes Data exciting and what advice would you give to those who wish to follow in your footsteps?
Interesting question. Many say Data is the new oil, but a software vendor (Collibra) defined it so much better. Data is the water of the organisation, it needs to be clean, readily available and delivered to those who need it. Data is so important to our organisation, as with many others, we make so many business decisions based on it, the services we provide to our customers are based on it, we don’t get paid without it! Does that make it sound exciting enough?

As for Data Governance? Don’t tell anyone, but the idea of Data Governance is simple, its all around people. I have said many times an organisation can have the best policies the best tools, but without the cultural shift required,  it will never happen. So focus more on your people and influencing skills, you need to bring people along a journey.

Who inspires you?
From a Data perspective it would be the late Larry English. I did a one day seminar of his in 2006 and it changed my career overnight, his book still sits on my desk today and regularly gets looked at. He took the idea of Total Quality Management and applied it to data, regularly challenging things that he felt were wrong, including American elections!

If you weren't in your current role, what would you be doing?
At 16 I fully intended to retire at 50 to a pub in the New Forest, that didn’t happen! I think if I wasn’t in a Data role I would still be doing something in Financial Services. Sorry a boring answer, but I enjoy what I do too much!

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