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Women in Information Management: Peggy Tsai

By Melanie Deardorff

Peggy Tsai is the Vice President of Data Solutions at BigID, a modern data intelligence platform that uses advanced machine learning and identity intelligence to help enterprises better protect their sensitive, customer and employee data.

We recently asked Peggy if she would talk about her role and industry experience and share her thoughts on being a woman working in information management. She was happy to oblige and now joins the other women we feature on our blog.

A Pivotal Move to Software

Peggy Tsai of BigID

Peggy Tsai, Vice President of Data Solutions at BigID

Peggy joined BigID in January of this year after working in information management roles that included being the Vice President of Analytics and Data at Morgan Stanley and the Data Innovation Lead at AIG.

“Coming here was my first venture into a start-up — going to the dark side, I like to say, joining a software company’s product team,” says Peggy.

Peggy admits she was a little nervous not knowing what to expect but quickly grew to love her new role, which was created in part to fill a need for a true data governance practitioner. “I can talk endlessly about it,” she says. “It’s such a unique opportunity and one that feels custom-made for me, since I ran data governance programs and was a data steward and could bring the credibility and hands-on experience BigID wanted.”

“We say that we stand for the three pillars of data: privacy, protection and perspectives.” – Peggy Tsai

Peggy’s Role at BigID

Peggy’s responsibilities include aspects of education, marketing and new business development, where she helps to explain BigID’s solutions to clients and prospects. “My work is internally focused, too, because I talk with our sales team about how to position our products to chief data officers — including the best terminology and most compelling use cases to share.” Peggy is able to bring her input to product development, as well, using her expertise to highlight opportunities to develop specific features that will resonate with the data governance community.

Peggy’s role interfaces with BigID’s new privacy and security experts who both joined in early 2020. “They know the privacy and security space and bring deep industry knowledge to our brand,” she says. “We say that we stand for the three pillars of data: privacy, protection and perspectives — and, yes, we love the alliteration!”

Data Governance Experience

Peggy’s first role in financial services was at S&P Global Ratings in 2005. “I worked in the Data Center of Excellence and, back then, it was quite innovative to have a centralized group of data functions, including strategy, stewardship, quality and operations,” Peggy says. “My area dictated best practices for data quality and oversaw a robust stewardship programs where we managed different business units, captured requirements and worked with Technology on builds.”

Peggy recalls her first experience with a data governance platform when S&P needed to build out a formal governance program. “We didn’t have a centralized business glossary tool,” she says, “and I remember we talked about data as a toll gate — and how to embed data into our existing technologies instead of reinventing the wheel and building out data from scratch.”

Peggy says that’s when she first became aware of what it meant to grow a data-aware company culture and how critical and influential a data governance program was in building out enterprise projects.

“You can’t develop innovative use cases for your business without good metadata management processes.” – Peggy Tsai

GDPR and Metadata Management

After nine years at S&P, Peggy moved to Morgan Stanley as Vice President of Enterprise Data Services. Then after nine months, she left to join AIG who was on the cusp of complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “They sorely needed a solution and proof of concept on how they could capture and document business processes to show the lineage and cross-border uses of the data,” she says.

Peggy believes that, a decade later, metadata management is even more important. “You can’t develop innovative use cases for your business without good metadata management processes,” she says, “and you can’t be successful with data privacy efforts either.”

Working with Women in the Industry

When our conversation shifted to the topic of women working in information management, Peggy said, “I love to talk about women in our industry! It’s what I’m passionate about.”

Peggy says she considered herself fortunate at S&P because women were in key leadership roles and the organization supported diversity. “On the data side, not quite half of the people I worked with were women,” she says. “In the technology area, it was primarily men but, overall, felt well-balanced.”

At AIG, Peggy’s department was under the Technology area run by a female CDO. “She was such a strong presence, and I’m grateful for how she made it a point to have women leading key projects,” she says.

When Peggy left AIG, she returned to Morgan Stanley where she stayed through December 2019. “It was a more of a traditional bank culture with men in every senior-level role,” she says.

Today at BigID, Peggy says that 23% of its staff is female and that there are three women in senior roles. “Having women high up in the organization is good for our company,” she says.

“Being in data doesn’t mean you have to know how to code.” – Peggy Tsai

Future for Data Professionals

It’s no surprise, given Peggy’s background and enthusiasm for her career, that she champions more people to join the industry. “A variety of skill sets and backgrounds are needed today,” she says. “I’d encourage someone with a humanities background to work in data. With clear, logical thinking, you’re able to explain business value in layman’s terms —and we need great communicators and more people bridging the business/technology gap. Besides, being in data doesn’t mean you have to know how to code.”

Peggy also sees more collective interest in data today. “With a greater understanding of the data we share and consume, privacy breaches and data-focused headlines regularly in the news,” she says, “this heightened awareness attracts more interest and more funding. And that’s a great thing for our industry.”

Even though Peggy is content at BigID, she’s keeping an eye on the future and what she might do next. “Our legislators don’t really understand technology,” she says, “and that gap is something I’d like to explore at some point. The government needs more data practitioners and CDOs at each state and government level. I guess you could say that would be my ultimate dream job someday — taking what I know about data and using that knowledge to make an impact on our laws.”

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