Leadership and HR involvement critical to increasing data literacy in businesses, says Sagicor Data & Analytics Chief

June 06, 2022

Kingston, Jamaica – Opal Donaldson-Cross, Sagicor Group Jamaica’s Assistant Vice President with responsibility for Data and Analytics, says a strong relationship between Human Resources and Information Technology departments is paramount to drive data innovation within companies.
She was speaking recently on a Chief Data Officer (CDO) Panel hosted by Gartner – a renown technological research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Connecticut – which explored success stories in building data-driven cultures in global businesses.
Moderator for the panel and Distinguished Vice President for Data and Analytics Strategy and Chief Data Officer (CDO) of Gartner Alan D. Duncan lauded Sagicor Group Jamaica for its efforts in creating a cohesive data framework across its business lines and subsidiaries, and quizzed Donaldson-Cross on how the group has been able to accomplish this.
“Because we’re a group of companies with different sub-cultures and objectives, one of the main things that we ensured we did at Sagicor was getting all the leaders involved in the vison of a data-driven culture, and I think that was absolutely important,” she responded. 
“Our President and CEO Christopher Zacca has led the charge by letting our team members know how important data is to our overall digital strategy. He has coined the objective for Sagicor to be a leader in data analytics within the region in another four years. Driven by that, we have actively gotten the leadership involved across the Group,” she added.
Donaldson-Cross noted that once the senior leadership team was on board, then the Human Resources Department became essential in the next phase of moving data and analytics forward through team members in the businesses.
“Data may be technical, but it is at the core of what we do, so we need all our people to have an acceptable level of data literacy to move the processes forward,” she said. “Working along with HR has been great in setting up a system of accountability for team members and bridging  the knowledge gap. We tried our best to demystify the ‘techy’ stuff, and through working with HR department we created mandatory trainings, with testing involved. This gave us a measure of how we were progressing.”
Donaldson-Cross used the opportunity to encourage businesses to take stock of their existing company cultures and use that to their advantage in building data literacy.
“For example, one of the things we did was capitalise on our competitive spirit at Sagicor by coming up with a Data Innovation Challenge,” she highlighted. “Our marketing team helped us to come up with the branding and showcasing of our talent, and we invited team members to pitch their ideas for awesome prizes.”
She noted that from that initiative, the Group saw several innovative ideas being brought forward from team members to transform their respective areas and push Sagicor to the next level, and that the leadership team is now working to implement those ideas.