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  • Writer's pictureGunjan Syal

Remembrance Day & Leadership

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Remembrance Day
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Remembrance Day is commonly observed in most countries on November 11th of each year, with a moment of silence at 11a.m. local time. This is the day we honour Veterans for sacrifices they made so we can enjoy the freedom and peace.

This year, Remembrance Day has a special significance for me - both personal and business. As I shared on social media, I recently experienced cyber and physical stalking. The toll it took on every aspect of my life was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It took some time to realize that going into hiding and parking my life, work and passions under intimidation is not the answer. Dark web is dark for a reason, after all. When we go to a dark place amid intimidation, we miss out on the wonderful opportunities brighter side of life has to offer.

At the end of the day, this experience helped me realize the following in connection with both life and my work:

  1. a deep appreciation for sacrifices the veterans made over the years to provide us the freedoms we take for granted,

  2. a glimpse into an incredible dark side of data - how our public/ social media data footprint can be aggregated and used to intimidate the individuals, and most importantly,

  3. the type of leadership, data strategy and ethical considerations our organizations need to avoid such experiences from becoming commonplace.

Here are some leadership lessons data teams can draw from the Veterans this Remembrance Day:
  1. Be courageous and ask the right questions when collecting the data - for instance: what are we collecting, from whom, why, and for what purpose.

  2. As a part of your data culture, define and instill clearly defined principles with governance, including access and use. Roles-based access is a common term these days - there is an extra layer of governance required to ensure the roles on the data team and access remain up-to-date as the data set itself changes.

  3. Actively define and adjust the enterprise-level data strategy, as more data sets are consolidated and the needs of human users evolve.

  4. Leaders must actively take responsibility for ensuring ethical handling of data, with clearly defined consequences for compromises.

As Michael Porter said, "Shared value is addressing social issues through business model."

I believe that every business model, regardless of industry and sector, is now incredibly dependent on data and it's handling. This means that every human on the planet is impacted deeply by decisions our leaders make around the collection, security, consolidation, analysis, and sharing of this data.

To create the economic + social shared value Michael Porter mentioned, we require data leaders who are willing to make difficult choices, define clear responsible innovation guidelines among their teams. I imagine this is the type of leadership Veterans displayed amid uncertainty in the field; with a desired positive impact towards freedom. Without this type of leadership, customers will lose trust in businesses that mishandle data and the negative impact to the bottom-line will follow.