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Dave Mason, Chief Data Officer, Thales UK

Describe your career to date


I have worked in aerospace, defence, and security since I was an undergraduate. As an undergraduate, I spent a summer on systems modelling, and later my job involved statistics. I did not come up my career through data or IS, but I have always been obsessed about integrating data and analytics into our operating models. 
I have done roles across engineering, project management, and supply chain and being an operations director gave me the opportunity to see broadly and understand the challenges and opportunities of transforming operations through data management and exploitation. I have been CDO of Thales UK since 2021, but I spent a few years before developing and building our data driven operations transformation. 
I am part of great operations leadership team at Thales UK and also part of the whole Thales group to collaborate and benefit from my global data network and fellow CDOs. 
Being part of a transformation is always challenging and rewarding, I believe everything that I have done in my career to date has set me in such good stead. I also believe I am learning faster in this role than I have in while. It is a great fun complex system of technology, people, process, and data. 

Data literacy is a key enabler of the value and impact from data. How are you approaching this within your organisation? 


You have so many networks for self-services analysts – data owners, stewards, transformation leads – and as we have grown, we have had to become more sophisticated. 
We have the advantage of training material curated by our group teams and we spend a lot of time face to face and jointly working to get common business and data literacy. I believe data teams need to be business or operations literate too! 
The self-service community are actively supported, and we have created sub-communities. We did a 120 (business and data) people conference last year to really build a common understanding. 
We are also jointly working with our global colleagues to drive data quality, and this is sponsored by our COOs, involving deploying a fun DQ challenge that we are deploying as part of business conferences or team gatherings. 

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


Our engineers in the Thales UK businesses work with data from sensors to the core of the multi domain environment. Our equipment and system is integral to many mission critical systems for our customers. 

The UK Digital Operations team was created to address our internal operational transformation. We are four years into building the team from a few heads to over 50 Engineers, Modellers, Architects, Technologists, and Governance and Change specialists. The Digital Operations team is organised into cross-functional teams aligned to value streams. We manage roadmaps and complete releases across eight squads working to agile methodologies. We focus heavily on integrating with the functions and end-to-end process owners across our nine UK businesses. We are committed to delivering operational benefits to our teams across the UK. 

We integrate ten enterprise data sources, IIoT data, manage modelling, pipelines, enable self-service, and governance. 

We analyse usage for all data products by business areas and job function which drives our benefits model, as well as shaping roadmaps and monitoring change and engagement activity. We have grown from low tens of users a few years ago to nearly half the business as users. 
We have POCs with more predictive and experimenting with LLM. We can also lean on our AI and Algo teams in the research centre and in the businesses. 

Dave Mason
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2023 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)