I recently spoke with my colleague Becky Lyons to learn more about her role at FSFP, career background, decision to work here and her thoughts on the future of data. Read on for a Q&A recap to gain personal and professional insights into the people that make up Team FSFP.
What’s your typical day like?
Right now, I’m working with three clients who are in different places on their data journey. So, my day is scheduled around client meetings — they schedule meetings, and I adjust accordingly. When not in client meetings, I usually work with one of our project teams reviewing deliverables and brainstorming ideas.
I also get to do some other fun stuff on the side. I write blog posts and resource guides for FSFP. I spoke at Enterprise Data World earlier this year and will speak at the Data Governance & Information Quality Conference later this year. And I continue to build our organizational change management practice.
Sometimes I get involved in the sales process, participating as a subject matter expert. Our business development team does a lot of great work to prepare for sales calls. Once they get their ducks in a row, I provide additional input about engagement goals and deliverables. Then, I get to go on the call with them and help however I can.
As a people manager, I manage three phenomenal individuals. I meet with them one-on-one every week. We talk about what happened last week and what’s coming up in the new week. I ask if they need help with anything and then share any information I’m asked to get out to them. We also talk about skills development.
One of the other things I get to do is join a weekly manager meeting where we talk about things that impact the people we manage — for example, the need for new processes, standards and templates.
How would you explain data governance to a kid or grandparent?
My mother-in-law is 85. So, the way I describe it to her is I help people. I help people use their data more efficiently and effectively. I typically use this example: When you go to a department store and make a purchase, you get a receipt that shows your account number, your name, how you paid and what you bought. Behind the scenes, I would help put together rules and policies to make sure the company can use that data to help you get a better experience at the department store — and I would also help make sure the individuals’ information is safe and secured. And then, even more fun, once we had all these things established, I would help other people in the department store learn about the related rules, policies, processes, etc.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
The people. I can’t speak highly enough of the team at FSFP. We’re all experts in our own rights at different things. We all want what’s best for our clients. And we all have the opportunity to shine and help each other do a really good job. Our clients don’t come to us when things are working well — we see them when they are in pretty touchy situations, and sometimes it’s kind of emotional. But we work with great clients and help them through challenging business problems, which is cool.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a candy-striper. (Do they still call hospital volunteers candy-stripers?) I did have a red-and-white smock I wore when I was working. Interestingly, my assignment was in medical records. So, you could say I’ve been working in healthcare data management on and off since I was a teenager!
What prepared you most for a career in consulting/data governance/data management?
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to receive stretch assignments. I led an enterprise function right out of college. I set up my first data governance program, fueled by a passion for data but with no idea what governance was all about. I helped establish Collibra at an international medical device manufacturer and distributor. I had the privilege of being asked to do things I may or may not have known much about beforehand — like in the example of leading the function. I went to school for what I was being asked to do. I had just graduated with a degree in Organizational and Human Resource Development but had never run a function before. They hired me because they trusted me, I did the work, and I did a pretty good job.
I believe in taking on things, even though they’re scary or I doubt my capabilities or because the work’s hard. But if someone who knows way more about the job and its expectations believes I can do it, why not go for it?
What made you choose FSFP?
Gretchen Burnham. I was camping with Gretchen right around the time she started working here. She was so excited about FSFP, and she knew I worked in organizational development and change. She showed me FSFP’s website, and I remember being blown away by the amount of emphasis placed on the human side of change. That was my first introduction to how amazing this company is.
Describe your consulting style.
My job is to make our clients successful. This means helping them understand what’s going on around them within a bigger context. A lot of times, I focus on education. I am also pragmatic; I’m not going to come up with a bunch of theoretical stuff. I can do theory, but it’s got to work for the client at the end of the day.
At one of our clients, we have this idea of “solutions, not stop signs.” They talk a lot about how you can’t stop a sale, you just can’t. So, governance is great as long as it’s not red tape and doesn’t get in the way. I love the idea of it being solutions, not stop signs. We look at data governance solutions for business problems. We connect the improvements we make through governance to what matters the most to our clients: delivering solutions to their customers.
Which FIRST (focus, integrity, resourcefulness, skillfulness, teamwork) value resonates the most with you and why?
I like them all. I would probably say resourcefulness, which goes back to your question about what prepared me to be a consultant. If I don’t know the answer to something, I will find out. I have no problem saying what I do and don’t know. And I love learning new things. So, if I don’t know something, I’ll be very explicit about that and just go figure it out. That ties into teamwork because it brings together the right people for the job at the right time.
Going back to how much I love the people we work with … I know I can ping any one of my colleagues at any time and say help me figure this out. And there will never be judgment. They’ll say, let’s figure it out together.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The first thing that jumps into mind is my mom saying, “you can do it.” Whenever I get nervous about something particularly daunting, I take a minute to remember my mom telling me that. Throughout my life, I’ve found her to be right in most cases. I can do lots of things, even things that seem too big or complex at first.
Also, change comes by invitation only. You can’t make people change, but you can help them understand how the change benefits them and what they need to do to make the change.
What advice would you give to someone considering a job in data management/governance?
Be prepared to learn every minute of every day. This industry is so dynamic that no two days are ever going to be the same. And the knowledge, skills and capabilities to meet today’s challenges will be different from those you needed yesterday, so be prepared to learn and be flexible.
What’s your best work-from-home tip?
Get ready for work every day. I put myself into that “it’s time for work” mode, so I get ready exactly how I would if going into an office — except I wear sweatpants at home.
The other thing, if it’s possible, is to find a place in your house you can designate as your office and only do work stuff there. Don’t even “accidentally” go shopping quick on a lunch break from your desk, make sure that place is only used for work, even if it’s like a corner of your living room with only your work laptop. Doing things like getting ready and having a designated space helps me focus because when I hit my chair, I know what is expected of me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I knit, read, watch TV and I like to travel. Also, I have two young dogs without the best manners, so they keep me pretty busy.
What do you see as the future of data?
Short term among our clients, there seems to be a greater understanding of the importance of the business being involved in data decisions. We’ve been working on this for years, so this is not a brand-new thing to FSFP, though this is a new, emerging concept with many people we work with. They are starting to see the business is involved in data decisions today whether they know they are or not. It’s something we’re seeing and, hopefully, people will understand more and more that data belongs to the business. The business creates the data; the business maintains the data. They’re the ones who are in charge of the data, and they need to take accountability and responsibility for what they do with it — and I think that’s happening more and more.
I also think our emphasis on organizational change management and the human side of change is helpful to clients because it’s either a new way of thinking or a way of thinking they want to promote.