I recently spoke with my colleague Becky Lyons to learn more about her role at FSFP, career background, process for choosing to work at FSFP 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 assigned to a client project full time. So, my day is completely scheduled around client meetings – the client will schedule meetings and I adjust accordingly. I also spend a lot of time with the project team. We do daily huddles and we spend a lot of time working together on deliverables.
I also get to do some other fun stuff on the side. I write blogs, I recently spoke at EDW, and I’m getting ready to do a DATAVERSITY training session with Gretchen.
I’ve also started getting involved in the sales process. They have me participate as a Subject Matter Expert. The business development team does a lot of great stuff to prepare for sales calls, and once they get their ducks in a row, I provide input. Then, I get to go on the call with them and help however I can.
As a people manager, I manage two phenomenal people. I meet with them one on one every week. We talk about what happened last week and what’s going on this coming 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 skill development. One of the things that we get to do as people managers is we have a weekly people manager meeting where we talk about things that impact the people that we manage. So, setting up processes and setting up any sort of standards or templates. We’re doing that too because it’s a new thing.
How would you explain data governance to a kid/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 usually use an example like when you go to a department store and you make a purchase. When you get your receipt it shows your account number, your name, how you paid, what you bought. Behind the scenes, I help put together rules and policies to make sure that the company can use that data to help you get a better experience at the department store, and then also I help them make sure their data is safe and secured. And then the fun part of my job is once we have all these things established, I help other people learn about those 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 right at different things. We all want what’s best for our clients. And we all, at least on the teams I’ve been on, 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 a pretty touchy situation and sometimes it’s kind of emotional. But, we have really great clients that we get to work with and we help them through some really tough things which is really cool too.
What was your first job?
I was a waitress. A bad waitress, I was not very good at all. It was at Pannekoeken Huis. Pannekoeken are Dutch pancakes and they pop up when you cook them. When they’re puffy, you have to run them out to the table and yell Pannekoeken as you’re running it before it gets to the table and deflates. That was the only part of the job I was good at when I didn’t fall over.
What prepared you most for a career in consulting/data governance/data management?
Taking on assignments I didn’t think I knew how to do. Throughout my career I’ve been really fortunate to be given stretch assignments. I led an enterprise function when I was 25. It wasn’t a very big enterprise, but it was still leading that function. Then, I set up neonatal intensive care units. I helped establish Collibra at an international medical device manufacturer and distributor. I’ve had the privilege of being asked to do some things that I may or may not have known much about beforehand. Like in the example of leading the function. I’d gone to school for what I was being asked to do. I had just graduated with a degree in Organizational and Human Resource Development , but I had never actually run a function before. They hired me because they trusted me and I did it, and I think I did an okay job. It’s that idea of taking on things, even though they’re scary, even though I think I can’t do them or they are really hard. Someone who knows way more about the job and its expectations thinks I can do it, so why not go for it?
What made you choose FSFP?
Gretchen Burnham. I was camping with Gretchen right around the time she started at FSFP . She was so excited about FSFP, and she knew I worked in organizational development and change. She showed me the FSFP website, and I remember thinking how cool it would be if I can get a job there. That was kind of my first introduction to how amazing FSFP is. Then, I did interview for a position. I ended up not taking it the first time I interviewed, which ended up being a good choice for me professionally. I learned a lot in between the time that I interviewed the first time and the second time, so I was grateful that was a choice I made and I was also grateful that FSFP let me come back and interview again.
Describe your consulting style.
My job is to make my clients successful. That 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 whole bunch of theoretical stuff. I can do theory, but at the end of the day it’s got to work for the client.
At my current client, 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, as long as it doesn’t get in the way. I love the idea of it being solutions, not stop signs. My job is to educate and help and move things forward, not get in people’s way.
Which FIRST (focus, integrity, resourcefulness, skillfulness, teamwork) value do you resonate with the most and why?
I like them all. I would probably say resourcefulness, and this goes back to that question about what’s 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 do not know. And I love learning new things. So if I don’t know something, I’ll be very explicit about it, and then I’ll just go figure it out. That ties into teamwork because it’s bringing together the right people for the job at the right time. Going back to how much I love the people that we work with, I know that at any time I can ping any one of my colleagues and say help me figure this out. And there will never be any judgement. They’ll say, let’s figure it out together.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The first thing that jumps into mind is my mom saying “you can do it”. In terms of something that’s really general, the advice is you can do it, figure it out. And that’s really how I’ve been able to get where I am because it’s that idea of I can do it. It’s just a matter of figuring out how.
Also, change comes by invitation only. You can’t make people change. I think that’s profound.
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, capabilities to meet today’s challenges are going to be different than those you needed yesterday, so be prepared to learn and be prepared to be flexible.
What’s your best work from home tip?
Get ready for work every day. I have to put myself in that mindset, so I get ready for work exactly how I would get ready if I was going to the office, except I wear sweatpants when I’m at home.
The other thing is, if at all possible, find a place in your house that 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 that place is only used for work, even if it’s like a corner of your living room, and it has your work laptop on it. For me, doing things like getting ready and having a designated space really 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 make costumes, I knit and watch TV, I like to read and I like to travel. I have a cabin and I have two dogs, and they’re amazing, and I play with them.
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, but with the people we work with, this seems to be a new/emerging concept. They are starting to see that the business is involved in data decisions today whether they know they are or not. It’s something that we’re seeing and hopefully people are going to 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 that data, and I think that’s happening more and more. And I also think that our emphasis on Organizational Change Management (OCM) and the human side of change is helpful to clients because it’s either a new way of thinking or a way of thinking that they want to promote. That’s the short-term future as I see it.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Senior Data Governance Consultant Becky. Take a look at some of the other posts in our Meet the Team series to gain more insight into the FSFP Team.