|WID Member Spotlight|
Women In Data Interest Group
Andrew Foster is the Deputy Chief Data Officer – Americas for Deutsche Bank. He is responsible for execution of the Deutsche Bank Data Strategy in the Americas, taking Chief Data Office technologies, process and training and embedding within the broader organization. He prides himself on bringing policies to life and ensuring business adoption through innovative implementation strategies.
Andrew was previously the Chief Data Office Head of Program Execution in the Americas, responsible for data sourcing delivery for Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). Andrew originates from South Africa and has spent his career working across London and New York in a variety of data focused roles.
Can you describe your current role?
I am the Deputy Chief Data Officer for Deutsche Bank Americas. The role sits within the Chief Data Office and I work across business lines to ensure adoption of best practice Data Management activities.
How long have you been in your current role?
Coming up three years. I have been at Deutsche Bank for almost 9 years. My role has always been data focused and has evolved from large scale program delivery to data governance implementation as the organization’s needs have flexed.
What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on in your career so far? Can you describe it?
I worked on a project which focused on merging legacy private banking branches across Europe into a UK-regulated commercial banking focused entity. I was able to work across some of the great capitals of Europe as well as meet and collaborate with people from dramatically different backgrounds and cultures. The work focused on data, people, system and process change and was vital to the organization’s strategy. I loved both the time pressure and challenge as well as the sheer variety of my day-to to-day work.
What advice would you give women trying to break into the data management industry?
Keep building a network both internal and external to your current organization. People love to talk about what they do (certainly true for me!) so reach out through your connections or just directly. If you are in a big city like New York, there are many free conferences where you go listen and learn. When I go to conferences I am always seeking new knowledge. More important is that I make one new connection with whom I can discuss industry topics in the future. What is also key is not to give up if people fail to respond. Enough people will respond to make your efforts worthwhile and those people will be the most interesting to talk to as they are also interested in engaging. Women in Data is a great example – but don’t just join, also contribute. And if you are thinking “I am not an expert,” that’s OK – ask a question and let someone else share their expertise.
What was you first paying job and what did you learn from it?
My parents told me that I was too naïve after high school and would benefit from a year of hands- on experience in the working world. I saved up some money and went backpacking on a shoestring budget across Europe when I was 17. I ended up staying with my Grandad in the north of England for the last couple of months before heading home. I worked in a shop called Mr Thrifties where I was paid GBP2.80 an hour to stamp prices on tins of beans. I enjoyed the comradery of my working colleagues however I realized that without further education I wouldn’t progress where I wanted. After university I have carried on with a quest for life time learning. Firstly formal qualifications like the CFA, more recently taking advantage of the wealth of training available online. I am currently studying the Stanford University Coursera Machine Learning course as part of a quest to deepen my knowledge in that area
Where can we find you on a Saturday or Sunday morning at 10AM?
On Saturday’s I sneak out of the house at about 6AM, cycle on a Citibike across Manhattan to play tennis at the indoor courts under the bridge at 60th and York. After tennis for 90 minutes I have coffee with my friend before walking slowly across Central Park all the way home. I used to cycle back before I realized that the slow walk was the best part of the morning, getting a latte at Birch and drinking it slowly as I walk through the park, watching the iceskaters, joggers and rollerbladers do their thing. The rest of the day I spend with my daughters whilst my wife gets her own time. Sunday is a family day.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
In one of my earlier jobs I was a waiter at a burger and steak restaurant in South Africa. I disliked the work culture and really wanted to leave. I asked my dad for his advice and he told me this – “Resign – you can’t work at a job that gives you that sort of stress. However remember this, you can only walk away because you have no dependents. Later in life you it won’t be so easy to walk away, so make sure that whatever work you do you enjoy it.” I’ve always used this as a lens to consider new opportunities as they have arisen over the years.