CDO Playbook

CDOs: Leadership, Data Quality Crucial for Data Success

During 2023, Ben Blanquera, Vice President at Rackspace Technology, interviewed eight prominent Chief Data Officers who shared insights on how data innovations can drive success.

Also a member of the editorial board of CDO Magazine, Ben is interviewing global CDOs to gain their insights to create a “Playbook” for the industry.

Last year, Ben Blanquera, Vice President at Rackspace Technology and a member of CDO Magazine’s Global Editorial Board, spoke with eight prominent Chief Data Officers from around the world who shared insights into the evolution of their roles and described how innovations in data and analytics contributed to the success of their respective companies.

Their insights resulted in a “CDO Playbook” – a collection of best practices for managing data and human resources to drive business innovation and transformation. Based on the 2023 conversations, we identified three common strategies from the playbooks for achieving success:

  • Identifying the importance of purpose and mission
  • Adopting a people-centric approach and promoting data literacy
  • Emphasizing the importance of practicality in data investments


Promoting purpose and mission

This key insight highlights the importance of building a strong foundation based on identifying purpose, establishing effective leadership, improving data quality, and boosting strategic data management. Such groundwork is essential for lasting success. For example, Bridgestone Americas places great emphasis on prioritizing a clearly defined purpose and mission for its data analytics team, supported by solid leadership and ongoing evaluation. In parallel, Cigna is establishing a culture that promotes data-driven practices from the executive level down, emphasizing the significance of data quality and its strategic role in informed decision making.

  • Jason Beyer, Vice President of Data & Analytics at Bridgestone Americas, said “To ensure success of a data program, it is crucial to have clear upfront sponsorship, understand your stakeholders, and assess their readiness, engagement, and willingness to embrace the framework.”
  • Caroline Carruthers, CEO of U.K.-based Carruthers and Jackson, emphasizes the importance of having a thorough understanding of the data sets being utilized. She questions, "If you do not comprehend the data that's being input, how can you possibly have any insight into the outcomes generated by the algorithms?" For her, the essence of leveraging data lies in the pursuit of improvement.


Prioritizing a people-centric approach and promoting data literacy

Another recurring theme emphasizes the human element of data-driven transformation, supporting accessible data, diverse learning opportunities and aligning data expertise with broader organizational change efforts.

  • Grupo Intercorp focuses on removing barriers and making data accessible to business partners, prioritizing pragmatic investments tailored to their specific needs.
  • FNB South Africa also champions data literacy through diverse training programs, acknowledging its key role in better decision-making and driving business outcomes.
  • Nollie Maoto, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at First National Bank said, “Data literacy has become important for almost everybody, and companies need more people with that ability to interpret data, draw insights from it, and ask the right questions in the first place.”
  • Mai Alowaish, Chief Data and Innovation Officer at Gulf Bank, underscores that digital transformation is about people and that the transformation cannot succeed without them. She initiated a “data ambassadors” program and built a network of individuals empowered to lead data quality initiatives within their teams.


Emphasizing practicality in data investments

A common sentiment that resonated among the CDOs we spoke with was the importance of adopting a pragmatic approach to data investing. Several of the experts emphasized the need for practical and thoughtful strategies to ensure optimal use and meaningful results. At Grupo Intercorp the focus is on building platforms rather than depending solely on commercial solutions.


To read all the full series of CDO interviews, visit the links below: 

  1. Nollie Maoto, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at First National Bank
  2. Caroline Carruthers, CEO of U.K.-based Carruthers and Jackson
  3. Ram Kumar – CDAO Cigna
  4. Iván Herrero Bartolomé’s – CDO Grupo Intercorp
  5. Jason Beyer, Vice President of Data & Analytics at Bridgestone Americas
  6. Moez Hassan – VP, CDO Royal Carribbean
  7. Mai Alowaish – CDO Gulf Bank
  8. Tracie Cleveland Thomas – Key Bank


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About the Authors

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VP - Evangelist and Senior Architect

Ben Blanquera

Ben is VP-Evangelist and Senior Architect with Rackspace Technology. He works with enterprises, architecting solutions to enable them to drive business outcomes through thriving in a multicloud world.    He is a 35-year veteran in multiple industries including health care, manufacturing, and technology consulting. Prior to Rackspace, Ben was with Covail, a leading-edge provider of AI/ML and cybersecurity services to Fortune 1000 clients. At Covail, Ben was VP of Delivery and transitioned to VP of Revenue and Client Success.  A recognized technology leader, Ben was named a Premier 100 leader by Computerworld. Outside of work, he loves to travel, ride his bike, and spend time with his wife and four daughters. He is an active organizer in the tech community and curates the Central Ohio CIO forum (150+ CIOs) and founded Techlife Columbus. Ben also serves on the Pitch Advisory Board for South by Southwest and the Editorial Board for CDO Magazine.

Read more about Ben Blanquera