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  • Anwar Mirza, Data Strategy and Governance, FedEx Express EU

Anwar Mirza, Data Strategy and Governance, FedEx Express EU

What has been your path to power?

A quest for knowledge inevitably leads to experiences with colleagues where mutual trust is the foundation for great outcomes. Building those relationships has been a critical component in my career where those mentors, colleagues, friends and students have been present throughout.

 

My career has morphed over the years from financial analysis, auditing and cash management onto systems development, application integration and back office systems transformation onto data strategy, data governance, data literacy and data management .

 

In the background, 15 years as a regular public speaker has allowed me to innovate with other thought leaders and like-minded individuals. Together with other organisations and at an individual level, I have led/learnt/helped in developing methodologies and cross-industry best practice with chief data officers and data management professionals.

 

In parallel, I have taken great pride and pleasure in lecturing for a decade to final year university students. This ensures we nurture and develop the right skills in future generations which is essential to all organisations in our economy. Practical experience by leading within my organisation, collaborating with experts across industry and supporting the next generation has given me balanced perspective and skills that are warmly welcomed by many individuals, groups and organisations.

What impact has the pandemic had on the role of data in your company/organisation?
The pandemic has been a double-edged sword in terms of the role of data and often in turbulent circumstances has:

  •  Renewed the importance of being able to gather and present data quickly in a digestible manner to both internal and external audiences;
  •  Strengthened the urgency, momentum and funding of data-driven performance improvement across the entire organisation;
  •  Accelerated the growth and alignment of the data departments across our operating companies;
  •  Increased awareness of the data subject and formalised the need for data literacy in among other organisational education and training;
  •  Ensured that data is at the core of leadership discussions.

Does data now have a seat at the table during strategic discussions? If not, what will it take to get it there?
In 1978, FedEx founder and chairman Frederic W. Smith famously said: “The information about the package is just as important as the package itself”. Ensuring that data and information remains at that core means enforcing one of many data principles: People perform processes using technology that creates or consumes data. These overlapping pillars mean data is in context of one or more of those pillars. The key to ensuring data always has a seat at the table is proving, measuring and demonstrating the value that data has as an asset for the organisation.

 

What are your key areas of focus for data and analytics in 2022?

This year, a further consolidation and strengthening of the data and analytics practice focuses upon formalising developments into an already large-scale agile release train by having a dedicated Data ART. This will enable our entire data analytics and science, research, engineering and governance areas to prioritise the ever-growing demand for data services.

 

Renewed attention on enterprise data literacy will allow focus upon awareness, education and training at all levels with the organisation. In particular, completeness assessment and content refresh are imperative to ensure the breadth of coverage is in line with requirements and the latest tools/technology.

 

Tell us what leadership means to you in the context of your role as a senior data leader.

Good leadership is continually self-learning and developing along with your team, peers and stakeholders. In the area of data management, this is critical as data is in itself a new discipline compared to people, process and technology management. Good leadership ensures that we develop guardrails, disciplines, standards and methodologies in a collaborative manner within our own organisation and also with industry as a whole.

 

Leadership nurtures talent and provides reward, opportunity and growth to a continuous pipeline of resource. Leadership ensures a clear communication of direction in the short, medium and long-term aligned to the strategic objectives of the company.

 

What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role?
Key skills and attributes contributing to success have been:

  •  Leading by example;
  •  Continuous knowledge acquisition and sharing;
  •  Background in business (finance) where discipline and method are regulated imperatives;
  •  Balanced skillset of disciplines spreading across the entire data subject;
  •  Collaboration with other experts in developing best practices.

 

How did you develop – and continue to develop – these skills or attributes?

Being taught early to help others has continuously developed me as an individual. Over the decades, I have tried to build a development ecosystem which would be illustrated best by connecting several dots with each other:

  •  Learning about the data subject;
  •  Applying data knowledge to business areas in practical use cases;
  •  Collaborating with like-minded professionals in developing best practice;
  •  Working with other industry verticals;
  •  Learning about tools and technology;
  •  Managing change;
  •  Building business cases and use cases;
  •  Developing approaches, methodologies and examples at events and masterclasses to peers;
  •  Accepting challenge and change, and also challenging others.

Is the data tech you have keeping pace with your goals and requirements? Are your providers leading or lagging behind your demands?

The suppliers I deal with struggle to:

  •  clearly articulate which processes they are addressing with their solution (especially solutions which are part of a suite);
  •  position their product among the data processes across the entire data subject;
  • position their product among the entire data technology landscape;
  • objectively compare to direct competitors;
  • clearly explain their own solutions’ connectivity to other solutions providers;
  • provide a comprehensive demonstration of their capabilities (and leave that to reference sites);
  • provide real implementation accelerators.

The data tech solutions landscape is super-saturated and initial value is not necessarily a sign of scalability and long-term value.

 

Anwar Mirza
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)