Data Management Mentoring - a Decade of Delicate Balance - Nigel Turner

28 May 2021 3:08 PM | Sue Russell (Administrator)

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DATA MANAGEMENT MENTORING – A DECADE OF DELICATE BALANCE

As a co-founder of DAMA UK’s mentoring scheme, it’s no surprise that I am a great advocate of the value of mentoring, both in our data management profession and in life.   I’m delighted to say that this year marks the 10th anniversary of our scheme, founded back in 2011.

Since its inception we have used the University of California’s definition of mentoring as ‘a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of someone else’ .  The scheme’s main aims have also remained unchanged over the intervening period and are to:

·         Help improve the skills and expertise of all DAMA UK members by growing skills, expertise and best practice across the organisation.

·         Support the professionalism of all DAMA UK members

·         Raise the profile of data management specialists across wider UK industry

We launched the scheme after it became clear to the committee that some of our members want to talk with other data management professionals who are not their managers or work colleagues.  This may be to help them with specific data management problems, e.g. how can I get senior managers in my organisation to buy in to data governance?  How do I start a customer master data management project?  How do I build a business case for improving data quality?   In addition, some want to focus on their own personal and professional development, e.g. What should I do to prepare myself to take on a data governance role?  I don’t feel I am getting the credit within my company for what I do in data management, so how can I raise my profile and be recognised more widely? 

The scheme is open only to DAMA UK individual or corporate members.  In the last 10 years more than 60 DAMA UK members have been connected to a variety of mentors who have provided support across the entire breadth of the data management disciplines including data architecture, business intelligence, data quality and data governance, in addition to career path advice.  At the present time 10 mentors are mentoring more than 25 DAMA UK members.  We are also currently revamping the scheme to make it easier for mentors and mentees to link up more easily via the DAMA UK website.

Having been a mentor myself since the start, what have I learned about mentoring?  First, being a mentor is as much a learning experience as being a mentee, as I have been exposed to many different data management people and their problems working in a wide variety of organisational cultures, including small businesses, global multinationals and UK government departments.  This has taught me that although good practice in data management is often generic, with many different organisations facing similar challenges with data quality, governance, reporting and so on, understanding specific cultural contexts is critical to providing viable support and advice.  What works in a small business may not do so in a multinational and vice versa. 

Moreover, what mentees usually want is not someone to tell them what to do, but a mentor who acts as a sounding board to listen to their ideas and thoughts, ask independent questions, provide feedback and generally act as a supportive friend who has their best interests at heart.  In essence,  mentoring should be all about helping others to develop themselves in the direction they want to go in.  As the film director Steven Spielberg observed, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” 

If you are a DAMA UK member and have not been involved to date by either being a mentor or a mentee (or both) why not give it a try?  In the first instance go to the mentoring pages on our website at https://www.dama-uk.org/Mentoring for more information on the scheme, and how to get involved.  Here’s to the next 10 years!   

Nigel Turner

Principal Information Management Consultant, Global Data Strategy

DAMA UK Committee Member  

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