Data governance interview – Rutendo Urenje

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Rutendo Urenje is an experienced data governance support officer, with a demonstrated history of working in the international affairs industry. She is skilled in nonprofit organizations, fundraising, leadership, project management, and customer service. She is a strong international law professional who graduated from University of Lund.

Nicola Askham: How long have you been working in data governance?

Rutendo Urenje: I have been working in data governance for a year now.

Askham: Some people view data governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

Urenje: I would say I didn’t choose data governance but data governance chose me and I am grateful it did. I first came across data governance through research after I had been tasked with coming up with a proposal of what the organization I work for needed to improve its data management maturity level. After some research, I realized that the private sector was buzzing with data governance but the inter-governmental organizations had not quite gotten there yet. I then proposed for us to consider data governance as an option for managing our data better.

Askham: What characteristics do you have that make you successful at data governance and why?

Urenje: I am blessed with the ability to come up with innovative ways to problem solving. My new philosophy is, “Innovation is the linchpin of result”. I don’t back down until we have a solution that makes everyone feel as though they have won. I also make sure that in driving data governance forward, everyone knows and feels that they are an important part of the team and they are valued.

Askham: Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in data governance?

Urenje: When I started with data governance, I began at the Data Governance Institute website, I spent all my days there. Then I got into John Ladley’s Data Governance and Sunil Soares’ Big Data Governance.

Askham: What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in your data governance implementation so far?

Urenje: My biggest challenge has been getting everyone to make data governance an institutional priority. Also getting people to agree on what are the data governance imperatives we cannot do without.

Askham: What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in data governance?

Urenje: I would say, learn your stakeholders, know what their interests are and help them understand why data governance is uniquely important to their business area.

Askham: Finally, I wondered if you could share a memorable data governance experience (either humorous or challenging)?

Urenje: We were working on some data governance guidelines and we had scheduled some meetings with different stakeholders. One meeting that stood out was with a stakeholder who had reviewed a section of our guidelines. When we started the meeting, I noticed that he was not particularly friendly or chatty and seemed irritated by the whole data governance framework. During the meeting, he was hostile and unyielding.

Our meeting ended with us not really agreeing with each other and simply just frustrated. However, while leaving the meeting room, I then noticed the draft guidelines in his hands and noticed comments written in red and realized that he had a problem with the diagrams we had included to represent my role as a support officer versus his role as a data manager. Consequently, we went back to the drawing board and made sure that the data governance support position was represented as a supportive structure to the already working system. This helped a lot in getting buy in from other stakeholders.

(This post originally appeared on Nicola's blog site, which can be viewed here).

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