Call it Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Analytics Officer (CAO), Head of Analytics, Chief Data Officer (CDO) or the CEOs, there can be several roles at a leadership level depending on how an analytics company is structured. And most of these roles have been a recent creation as the analytics industry witnessed a major boom in the last decade.
Whatever that you may call these high profile roles, it's not a cakewalk to reach the leadership position that these executives adorn at various analytics companies. From managing the technology that coordinates the flow of information into systems to posing decision making skills and turning the flow of data into meaningful information, these leaders need to have a strong hold at all of it.
Not just overseeing organization and providing business and technical expertise, there are other areas such as P/L, sales and marketing, data collection or information distribution that they need to fill up. Given the fact that employers are in a constant lookout for leaders who can understand massive amounts of data at their disposal, there’s a good chance to land up one of these leadership roles in the analytics industry.
Also according to our recent study, a transition to senior analytics leaders, with more than 12 years of experience, can lead to almost 50% increase in salaries. With such motivating numbers, it can be absolutely motivating and tempting to prepare best for these roles. (Read our Salary Study 2017 here).
Who can land up a leadership role?
Prithivijit Roy, CEO and Co-founder, Bridgei2i, says “Contrary to the belief that analytics professionals in leadership roles come with a quantitative background, a wide gamut of professionals with diverse set of experiences are making their way into analytics.They possess functional expertise such as marketing, sales, supply chain or industry experience in retail, e-commerce, technology, financial services, etc.”
“There is a widespread perception that number crunchers make better analytics leaders, but with the rapid evolution in the field of analytics, a combination of industry knowledge, functional expertise, and the acumen to apply analytics to solve business problems is most desired for analytics leaders”, he adds.
If we do a quick run through, there may have been various ways that these analytics leaders might have landed their jobs.
Firstly, those who have had a linear path within an analytics function in one organization, who witness a gradual growth to eventually make great leaders. Through the years they may have levelled up and made various career progressions. For instance, anyone who could have started as a basic analytics, statistics or data scientist profile with degrees in specialized courses such as masters of science in computer science, statistics, analytics, machine learning or related domain could fall under this category.
Secondly, those with nonlinear choice of career, who could have moved up to analytics executive position after having held positions at disciplines within and between analytics and related functions, such as marketing, IT, telecom sector etc. Mostly posing MBA, various factors such as their cross-functional approaches or expertise in enterprise architectures, could have landed them an analytics leadership role.
Thirdly, those who have never been into an analytics role before. It could have been a strong inclination towards numbers, data crunching and analytics, that landed them leadership roles. As you may believe, these mostly could be with strong academic background in engineering and technology.
“As one climbs the leadership ladder, it is not just about practicing analytics but honing the ability to understand business context and deliver the perfect solution by bringing technology and data science together. In a lot of cases, the transformation doesn’t end at deploying the solution. Leaders need to be adept at working with executives to help them build an analytics roadmap for delivering sustainable impact. There is no perfect recipe for succeeding in a leadership role. Evolving with the landscape and constant focus on delivering value, are the key drivers for making a splash as a leader”, Roy notes.
Bracing up for a leadership role-
As we noted earlier, anyone from engineering, finance, marketing or core competency subjects can land up a leadership role in the industry, analytics industry is quite unlike other sectors. Unlike a detailed education background being the lone factor in landing you a leadership role, even a cocktail of determination and a thorough interest in the field that can fetch you a CXO role in a good analytics company.
Roy makes a point by saying “Like any other field, analytics is evolving at an amazing pace, and it is important to keep abreast of emerging trends such as AI and its applications in the business context. Agility is key when it comes to making evolutionary decisions for the business you are running.”
“Leadership is a journey, and to succeed in that journey; you need to construct a value roadmap that articulates contribution needed from you as well the people you lead. It is important to understand that after a certain point in the leadership journey, it’s all about people”, he adds.
Roy concludes by saying “It is like the art of orchestra conducting; an ideal leader will have to bring all the people into a single voice. Your ability to groom people, develop business acumen in them and then create an ecosystem where they deliver value will eventually determine your success”.
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Srishti currently works as Associate Editor for Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.