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John Looney

John Looney, Director, Wall Street Technology Association

Describe your career to date   

Throughout my professional career, I’ve gravitated to roles that operate at the intersection of data, technology and operations. I started out working in asset servicing operations for State Street Corporation, learning all about the data, processes, systems and institutions that enable the global financial system to run each day.

 

Since then, over a 20+ career at the company, I’ve held a range of senior leadership roles – including as a head of operations, business unit chief information officer, head of regulatory data programs and a head of enterprise data governance and management. Realizing value through data was a central theme to each of these roles – through data automation, scalability, business analytics and sound governance.

 

I’ve also experienced the world of start-ups, serving as a product manager for a venture capital backed customer management firm. I worked directly with clients helping them implement multi-channel contact solutions and leverage their customer interaction data to improve acquisition, service excellence and cross-sell performance. Playing an active role in industry dialog and keeping pace with leading data practices has also been a consistent focus.

 

Earlier in my career, I served as a member of the Risk Management Association and the International Stock Lending Association and in more recent times, as a board director for the enterprise data management council and for the Wall Street Technology Association (WSTA). I’ve been fortunate to have had a career path full of opportunity and continuous learning, working with talented people each step of the way.

 

My leadership perspective has benefited from global experiences, having lived and worked in North America and the UK, with business travels having taken me to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I studied economics at Tufts University in the early 90s and received my MBA from Boston University in the late 90s. Academically, I was fascinated by the central role of data – whether it be utilizing data inputs to calculate economic forecasts or leveraging data analytics to assess business performance. 

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

In my experience, the maturity journey begins with a governance and compliance focus and then expands over time to a commercial focus. The benefit of taking this approach is that it establishes a solid foundation that can then be built upon with increasing levels of data sophistication. 

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

I have previously managed hundreds of resources focused on stewardship, governance, master data, analytics and data sourcing and distribution. Our team members were located in global operating hubs, co-located with business functions to optimize speed and effectiveness. My experience is with designing and building a hybrid operating model where an enterprise data organization sits in the center and partners with federated data teams that are aligned to business units. 

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

Rapid advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) brings with it tremendous opportunities across all industries. AI has the profile of being a sea change moment in technology innovation history. With this potential, comes the need for responsibility in the form of AI ethics. Leaders across industries and professions that create or leverage AI should make ethical AI design a part of their responsible AI strategy.

 

Protecting personal data privacy, ensuring proper use and attribution of intellectual property and detecting and correcting bias are just a few of the many AI ethics use cases to consider. In my current industry role, the WSTA facilitates seminars and networking events where members meet and exchange ideas and best practices that assist them in effectively capitalizing on data and technology advances as well as dealing with financial industry challenges. 

 

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

In my experience, the vision for data has always represented the top priorities of the organization as a whole. These priorities span defensive objectives like compliance and cost efficiency and offensive objectives like commercializing data and leveraging AI and analytics for competitive advantage. 

 

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

Successful organizations commit to data quality as a core ongoing process and not as a finite effort. The reason for continuous focus is that data is often part of an end-to-end supply chain which involves people, processes and technologies and it is rare for these things to stay constant. When changes occur, it is key to look at how your data quality checks need to adapt to maintain the business integrity of outputs. 

John Looney
John Looney
has been included in:
  • 100 Influencers 2023 (USA)