How do I get a career in data governance? | Nicola Askham| Career & Profile, Data & Insight, Feature

How do I get a career in data governance?

Most people do not get into data governance deliberately, I certainly did not. It often happens by accident. You are involved in some related work and you suddenly have this realisation about how beneficial data governance actually is. People then tend to choose to stay into that pool, but what if you are not doing this sort of work at the moment, and you want to get into data governance?

You need some experience

If you are applying for a data governance manager or lead role then most employers will be expecting you to have some relevant data governance experience, but it is ok if you don’t have any. What you do need is some relevant skills that you can bring to the table which will naturally make you a good candidate for a role in data governance, and then other relevant, if not direct, experience. For example, if you have been a project manager or a business analyst in the past then you will have transferable skills you can bring to data governance.

I have seen people come from a change management background, or even from IT. I have seen people very successfully come from IT roles like reporting, analytics and data architecture, because they really enjoy working with data, but they want to get more involved with the ‘people’ side of things and therefore they have successfully transitioned to data governance.

If you are also not working in any of those areas at the moment, then I would really encourage you to try and get some experience in data governance by volunteering to work in projects already ongoing in your organisation. I always say that this is the best way to get your very first data governance role. It is always easier to try and do something in your existing organisation and try to use what you already know to get some relevant experience before you start looking elsewhere for purely data governance roles.

Network, network, network

As well as getting relevant experience, you should also consider joining a professional organisation. To be completely transparent, I’m on the committee of DAMA UK, which is the UK chapter of The Data Management Association. Therefore, I am obviously going to recommend that you join your local chapter, but not just because I am on the Board but because I genuinely believe that there are really good opportunities for learning and education that will help you to get some the skills that you will need to do the job.

DAMA UK also has a mentoring scheme for its members. That means if you want to get into data governance, they will pair you with a mentor who will be able to advise you and help you. Along with that there are also the networking benefits of belonging to a professional organisation. They will hold events; have webinars and you will start getting to hear a lot more about the topic.

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’

Along with networking as part of a professional organisation, I would also recommend joining any other networking groups and events that you can. This means you get to meet, hear and talk to other data governance professionals. For example, last year I set up a Data Governance Meet Up group with a couple of data governance friends and within the group we have people with all sorts of different levels of experience. We get together to talk about a data governance topic once every couple of months and we share experiences, examples and people help each other. Quite often the conversation turns to ‘oh, I’m recruiting at the moment – does anybody know anybody’ and somebody within the group will then apply.

There is that old adage that ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and this is very, very true, especially if you are relatively inexperienced in Data Governance at the moment. You are much more likely to get hired by somebody who has already seen you and knows that you are really keen on the topic than somebody you just randomly send a CV to.

Don’t forget if you have any questions you’d like covered in future videos or blogs please email me.

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