Role of data manager in 2022: main skills required and interview questions


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Data is the new oil, but how do you get the most out of it when there is so much information to work with, from both internal and external sources? A data steward designs data-centric systems and policies and oversees them as effectively as possible to help an organization derive maximum business value from critical data assets while complying with regulatory and security requirements.

Role of a data manager in a company

From financial services to healthcare, nearly every industry is looking to use explosive volumes of data to better understand customer/market behavior and generate insights that could streamline day-to-day operations across all functions and improve margins, among others. A data steward oversees how the most valuable data assets are accessed, validated, stored, and analyzed to meet various consumption requirements. To do this, they implement the necessary practices, governance rules, architectural techniques, and tools that enable consistent data access and delivery across a wide range of domains.

Simply put, data stewards are “data stewards” responsible for the availability, control, and security of data.

“For data availability, a data steward makes data readily available to end users in a secure and compliant manner,” notes Nicolas Sekkaki, global practice leader for apps, data and AI at Kyndryl.


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“It starts with mapping the data catalog of all data accessible across the enterprise and the right data architecture for data logistics (data collection, distribution, etc.). It also includes data quality (“single source of truth”) and data observability (think single pane of glass.)

“Data stewards also need to have the right controls in place to determine who should access what data at a very granular level (attribute-based access controls)… When it comes to data privacy, data stewards need to identify which data should be anonymized or masked as sensitive personal data to comply with data regulations,” Sekkaki added.

Data steward responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Implement procedures and systems to ensure instant availability, management and security of high quality data for effective analysis and reporting.
  • Develop policies and processes for using and sharing data while adhering to corporate and legal regulations.
  • Continuously maintain data management plans and instructions (SOPs) for operating complex business systems.
  • Oversee the integration of new technologies and initiatives into data standards and structures to create new competitive advantages with data.
  • Monitor data systems to flag and resolve issues that may affect analytical results.
  • Evaluate system performance over time and make recommendations for software, hardware, and storage improvements.

Read also : What is master data management? Benefits, Components, Key Strategies

Key Skills Needed to Succeed as a Data Steward in 2022

As Reltio’s Manish Sood explains, the role of a data steward initially resided in IT departments to help build applications to collect, cleanse, enrich, and unify core business data. However, with the increased focus on operations in every business function, data stewards are now working with enterprise operations teams to support the use of data as a strategic asset. This shift requires them to have both strategic business acumen and deep technical expertise.

The skills required for the Data Steward role are:

  • At least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related field.
  • Skills in data engineering and architecture.
  • Understand the domain and data attributes (requires a good understanding of the business and the art of what is possible).
  • Ability to automate the data lifecycle (DataOps, MLOps, FinOps, etc.).
  • Knowledge of how to perform data operations, implement a master data management strategy, and operate in a data marketplace (eg, how to share data).
  • Interpersonal skills, as the role will require partnering with C-level leaders and non-technical teams.

The most asked interview questions

When hiring for the role of a data manager, technical decision makers not only look for domain expertise, including understanding of modern data landscapes, but also tenacity as well as clarity of thought and communication to stakeholders. Therefore, the questions remain largely focused on how the candidate will leverage organizational data at all levels and generate return on investment (ROI).

Some of the most common questions are:

  1. How to unlock value from big data in a cost effective and fast way?
  2. As a data steward, how do you come up with recommendations for new technologies/solutions?
  3. What are the latest trends and innovations for data management systems?
  4. What data frameworks and sharing practices do you suggest?
  5. How to deliver standardized and accurate data to end users in a secure way?
  6. What would be the best approach to ensure continued regulatory compliance?
  7. What will you do in the event of a security breach?

Several leading organizations in the US and beyond are already hiring (or have hired) data stewards to better position their data strategy. The number of vacancies is only expected to increase as the volume of data and data sources grows within companies. According IDCthe global datasphere will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes by 2025, at a CAGR of 61%.

Read next: What is the difference between a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and a Data Management Platform (DMP)? Definitions, collection methods and best practices for analysis

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