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  • Adam Nagus, Global Chief Data Officer, Pearson

Adam Nagus, Global Chief Data Officer, Pearson

Describe your career to date

I’ve spent 20 years being part of some of the largest digital transformation programmes across all major vertical industries. I am known as one of the founders and catalyst of the visual analytics movement which focuses on transforming how BI and MI is created and adopted across enterprises and private equity. My visual analytics practice absorbed business intelligence to form a 16,000-person organisation called Visual Intelligence. 


After 13 years growing Accenture’s digital capabilities, I founded my own consultancy, Digimasters, focusing on digital and data transformation. As CEO, I worked hard being a niche player, supporting and mentoring organisations with first generation CDOs. We also focused on how innovation can make a difference when it is scaled correctly and building new digital products to change culture internally as well as new customer services. 


I was invited to start a new digital delivery practice in FTI Consulting and Digimasters went through an ‘aquhire’ where the Digimasters team joined FTI Consulting to grow the new digital science practice. 


Within FTI I was the MD for digital delivery owning BI, visualisation, data engineering, solution architecture and support services. My proudest achievements where winning Qlik and Tableau Partner of the year five years in a row and growing the largest visual analytics capability in the world, developing a new methodology for carving out organisations for PE clients, creating a new platform for strategic workforce planning, called TOBI (after my dog Toby), and being invited to join Pearson as global chief data officer.

What stage has your organisation reached on its data maturity journey?

The organisation is made up of many different business units, with each one at a different level of data maturity. It is difficult to place a single stage on the entire company when it works in quite a diverse range of countries, products and services. My opinion is that the organisation has the opportunity to grow in data maturity in all areas and has a lot of potential once key dependencies in enterprise architecture and culture are resolved. A 200-year-old organisation made up of many smaller acquisitions presents a large challenge to a single data strategy.


Tell us about the data and analytics resources you are responsible for 

The role of the CDO was not defined prior to creating this role. For Pearson this is a first-generation role. Originally there was no team at the start of the role. Now the CDO has a community of around 900 people spread across the organisation in many geographies. I am responsible for a senior leadership team across operational BI, data governance, New Pearson+ digital org, data products, data strategy, data literacy and implementing new platforms such as data catalogue.

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your organisation and on the industry as a whole? 

I see a major challenge coming up for many data teams in our industry with the new reporting regulation around Net30 and other ESG regulations. Most of the data leaders and business leaders I work with are not clear on the requirement for implementing promises made by the board and CEOs regarding emission and energy usage by a global organisation. 


Data has a challenge, but also an opportunity to aid the organisation meeting the key promises made to customers, governments and employees regarding the sustainability of the company. The other key challenge is retaining talent and strategic workforce planning. We are experiencing an exodus of talent now new roles are available at companies like Facebook-owner Meta, which used to be limited to candidates in one city or location. These roles are now remote so anyone can apply across the US or UK.

Have you set out a vision for data? If so, what is it aiming for and does it embrace the whole organisation or just the data function? 

My vision for data covers many of the regular areas most data visions and data strategy would cover, however, within the wider global organisation I am primarily focused on demonstrating to the executive, board, presidents and data leaders that data should be a revenue driver and not just a cost. 


My vision focuses on helping data teams become more product driven, using product delivery methodologies to develop solutions that can be directly integrated into existing or new products. All digital products produce data, so insight should be provided back to not just the business but the end consumer as well.


Have you been able to fix the data foundations of your organisation, particularly with regard to data quality? 

The current data issues stem from how our technology has been set up and the lack of governance and process management in the organisation. The data office is focusing on removing the finger pointing and being a force for compromise and change. As a capability that is heavily impacted by data quality, we are attempting to bring best practice to the entire organisation through data catalogue implementation, new data governance operating models and awareness on the life cycle of data. We want to remove the incorrectly held belief that the data office can resolve all data issues no matter where they are created.

Adam Nagus
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)