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WID Member Spotlight
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Women In Data Interest Group 

Member Spotlight

As Chief Data Officer for KPMG (US), Jodi drives the firm’s data strategy and operations to build a state-of-the-art data supply chain, and the related governance, standards and processes. Jodi has over 25 years of experience in data governance, management and operations, and in finance and accounting.

Prior to joining KPMG, Jodi worked at Freddie Mac for 15 years, most recently as Vice President and Chief Data Officer for the Single-Family Business, where she developed the first business-driven data strategy and organization. Prior to that, Jodi was the Chief Financial Officer of Freddie Mac’s Single-Family Business. Jodi is also an alumnus of PwC.

Interview Questions with Jodi Morton

Can you describe your current role?

As Chief Data Officer for KPMG LLP, I’m responsible for establishing and implementing the U.S. firm-wide data strategy which includes data governance, master data management, metadata and enterprise data lake solutions as well as culture, communication, change management and advocacy across KPMG. This allows us to not only build the right infrastructure and platforms but to have the right programs and mindset in place regarding data as an asset across the firm.

How long have you been in your current role and what is your most recent experience that brought you there?

I joined KPMG on April 1, 2019. Prior to that I spent 25 years in a variety of roles in finance and accounting.

I started my career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as an auditor of banks and mortgage banks. I then spent 15 years at Freddie Mac in finance and accounting and eventually became the CFO of the Single Family business during the 2007-08 global financial crisis. I had to learn how data made its way through the company into finance and accounting and our financial statements. I had responsibility to produce complete and accurate financial statements. During this time, we had to figure out to how to account for different types of relief programs that were new to the market due to the credit crisis. We also provided insight to the health of our portfolio, not only to senior management, but to our regulator and Congress who needed to know how their constituents were impacted by the credit crisis and the relief programs. All of this resulted in me becoming an expert in Freddie Mac’s data and seeing a need for an integrated data strategy and program.

During my last five years at Freddie Mac, I was the Chief Data Officer for the Single Family business. I stood up and led a business-driven data strategy and team. I was the first employee on the team and by the time I left, there were 150 employees. We built everything from data governance and management capabilities to data and analytics platforms to modernization of our corporate data warehouse.

Can you talk about the diversity individuals bring to the field of Data & Analytics?

When I became the Single Family CDO at Freddie Mac, I attended a lot of conferences, forums and other events. When I started attending, it was me and a bunch of guys from IT. Five years later the diversity of CDOs had improved greatly: it was about fifty-fifty from a gender perspective, and more and more of the CDOs were reporting to business functions rather than an IT function. CDOs also had a greater variety of prior experience including finance, risk, and analytics.

Companies have recognized they need CDOs and there has been a shift in the thinking regarding what makes a good CDO in terms of backgrounds and skillsets. I’ve never been in IT, but I have been a user of data for years. That gave me a different perspective on the business value of data and the day-to-day business challenges regarding the use of data to provide timely insights for the business.

So, I think it was organic in nature and resulted in a wholesale shift toward increased diversity, both across gender as well as experience, ethnicity and where we all came from. What we all have in common

is the ability to ask the next question and dig into something in order to seek ways to improve how data is managed and how it drives insight and value for the business.

Through your experience, can you talk about what you see as the biggest challenges for women in the field of Data & Analytics?

I spent most of my career at leadership tables that were largely male. Early in my career at PwC, there was one female partner in my office. There weren't a lot of female mentors for me.

With that being said, at several points during my career I worked for amazing men who stood as advocates and supporters of me and gave me opportunities. I have been fortunate to have both female and male mentors over the years who have encouraged me and helped to guide me through my career.

Two bosses at Freddie Mac provided me great opportunities to be the Single Family CFO, and then the Single Family CDO. They mentored me and provided me the next step in my career. When the EVP for the Single Family Business asked me to be the first Chief Data Officer, he convinced me to leave my comfort zone of finance and accounting. He knew that I'd be passionate about it and that I had all the skills and experience to be successful as a CDO. So, it really helped a lot to have somebody who had confidence in me and gave me an opportunity to take the next step in my career.

What is your best advice for women coming along in the field?

A couple of things happened consistently throughout my career. I was frequently asked to take on new roles and responsibilities that weren't necessarily within my comfort area, or the scope of my current job.

I never shied away from raising my hand to volunteer or to learn something new. I said yes when somebody asked me to do something and as a result of that, my 15 years at Freddie Mac allowed me to work across and understand all three of our major businesses. I jumped right in to learn as much as I could about the new challenge – I leveraged and expanded my network, researched the new area, and asked a lot of questions.

The other advice I would give is sometimes opportunities are lateral moves versus upward moves. Lateral moves gave me a broader set of tools, skills and perspective of how the company worked. I think that's really important. This made me more valuable when the opportunity to move up presented itself.

What was your first paying job and what did you learn from it?

My dad was in the Marine Corps and one summer in high school I was a cashier at one of the convenience stores on base. Every Friday, Marines would get their paychecks and come through to buy their supplies for the week. There were no chips or card readers, so to avoid a line you had to move as fast as you could. During downtime, I asked for more responsibilities to make the day pass faster. I got to help with inventory or restocking. From that experience I essentially learned how to run a small mom and pop convenience store.

Who and what inspires you and excites your imagination and energy?

There's an online website called “A Mighty Girl” that I follow that highlights the stories of influential women. I’ve found a whole host of interesting and inspiring women who have taken what they saw as a small issue, concern, or even the big things and have figured out how to make a difference.

Recently Grace Hopper, who was a U.S. Navy rear admiral, was featured. She was very instrumental in the early days of computing. She was doing things that women weren't “supposed” to be doing at that

point in time. Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, broke barriers for female athletes. Both she and Admiral Hopper are interesting and inspiring women!

Another women who inspires me is Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouts. I am a Girl Scout and I'm passionate about the program. Juliette did things that, at that point in time, most women wouldn't have imagined doing; but she saw a need and started a movement that has impacted girls and women across the world for over 100 years.

So where can we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?

Generally, on a Saturday morning, you're going to find me out somewhere training for marathons. Also, now that my youngest son plays football in college, this fall you're going to find me tailgating for Old Dominion football games.

Any parting words or last thoughts to include?

I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to attaining a perfect work-life balance. Each of us has to find balance; how it makes sense for us and our own personal situation.

When my kids were younger, they got up early and went to bed early, so I often would wrap up work later in the evening after they were in bed. When my kids were in high school, I went to bed early and they stayed up late, and I caught up on work in the mornings. So, I adjusted my schedule around my kids’ schedules so I could be involved and present for them while getting everything done for work. We were flexible and our work-life balance shifted over the years. Although the picture of balance changes, the one thing I would say that has stayed consistent throughout the entire journey, has been my husband and our partnership.

We have both had highs and lows in our careers where one was busier than the other, which meant we have both pitched in over the years. During this journey of being professionals as well as raising our family, we have found a pretty “reasonable balance” for us at any point in time because we work together at it.

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