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Ramneet Julka, Head of Big Data and AI, UK, Vodafone

At the time of compiling the list and writing this article, Ramneet Julka was group head of data science, financial crime compliance at HSBC Bank


What has been your path to power?

After an MBA from the leading Indian management institute (IIM-Bangalore), I joined Standard Chartered Bank as a management trainee. After multiple rotations, I was intrigued how data could power and shape business decisions and that started my analytics career. When I moved to London, I joined American Express and Barclaycard in roles where I led design and delivery of risk mitigation across the customer lifecycle. I then stepped into senior leadership roles with HSBC and Barclays where I have led high impact transformational programmes and successfully unlocked commercial value from data, while remaining passionate about improving customer and colleague experiences.


I am an evangelist on the power of data science driving exponential business impact. This impact is dually powered through firstly, actively influencing senior executives and working collaboratively with matrixed teams across large organisations, and secondly, through technical expertise in enterprise data, data science and emerging technologies. Also, this delivery is grounded with expertise in data privacy, risk governance and controls, regulatory landscape and relations.


Finally, success is enabled by leading high-performing and inspired, cross-functional and multi-site large teams (Ie, analytics centres of excellence). I remain personally passionate about investing in people and building out both data scientists and bi-lingual data consultants.

What impact has the pandemic had on the role of data in your company/organisation?

The pandemic has accelerated demand and increased the rigour around data and technical innovation within our organisation. The strategic imperative on data meant that we continued to progress with our key technology programmes in compliance, while increasing the onus to evidence benefits and plan more thoughtfully on investment for the future.


During the pandemic, customers’ transactional behaviour and digital engagement has changed consistently and potentially permanently across various segments. This has required a refinement of our AI and ML models to respond to such changes effectively. Also, there is an exponential opportunity to leverage this increased data availability for customer and organizational benefits.

Does data now have a seat at the table during strategic discussions? If not, what will it take to get it there?

Being a leading financial services organisation, embracing new technology and innovation is at the core of being able to deliver our purpose and we are already committed to leveraging data to drive strategic actionable insights. This is driven by the need to be agile and responsive in a dynamic environment: where criminals get smarter, technology advances, customer expectations change and regulatory environment evolves. While the commitment exists, it is fair to sa, however, that the impact of data on strategic discussions is still on a growth trajectory as we prove success and continue to deliver increased visible financial and customer benefits to the organisation.


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

In 2021, we delivered sizeable benefits from the implementation of cloud-based machine learning capabilities in UK compliance. This proven success is driving the continued investment into data and analytics. In 2022, our data science teams will continue to work collaboratively with an open and curious mindset, as we will globally embed and expand out our existing AI and ML solution to multiple countries. Also, the capability will be extended to multiple use cases, increasing the reach and impact of data science within compliance. In parallel, we will continue to develop and optimize the existing AI and ML model, along with strengthening its ethical and performance monitoring and action planning.


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

Data fuels innovation and I firmly believe that an inspirational data leader will effectively underpin the direction and strategy of a business with the revolutionary potential of data. This will be achieved by a deep understanding of the business, including its opportunities and challenges, as well as a knowledge of the latest technological advances and trends.


A data leader can effectively define and prioritise commercial use cases, optimally leveraging the business’s data assets, balancing short-term tactical gains with long-term strategic competitive advantage. Impacts need to be underpinned by a culture of collaboration, innovation and development, so as to be sustainable and effective.


What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role?

I enjoy building strong partnerships with my stakeholders, collaboratively embedding analytics in large matrixed organisations. This has consistently helped me to identify and prioritise commercial use cases. I also love investing in people and experimenting with them on big data technologies. This passion has helped drive an accelerated impact from the data science teams that I have led.


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

My success in unlocking commercial value for businesses from data has been strengthened through the leadership of multiple high-impact transformation programmes across the customer lifecycle. I’ve been fortunate to have had a wide-ranging career across financial organisations in multiple geographies, leading dynamic, successful multi-site analytic teams, which has developed my commercial impact.


Also, I’ve further developed my technical impact through leadership of cloud-based machine learning and AI initiatives that have transformed the business’s strategic capabilities. Finally, to operate successfully as an enterprise leader, I have been an evangelist for achieving an exponential business impact with data through the development of an analytics consulting mindset.

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

Embracing new technology and innovation is at the core of being able to deliver our compliance purpose in a leading financial organization. With the exponential increase in data technologies and capabilities available in the industry, we are accelerating our investment in data science, including both technology and people investments, so as to deliver actionable insight by leveraging cutting-edge technology.


We have established partnerships with experienced cloud providers and fintechs that allows us to keep pace with the demand. However, the opportunity now exists to embed these working partnerships more effectively so as to drive increased value into the business from the available data tech.

Ramneet Julka
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2021 (EMEA)
  • 100 Brands 2022 (EMEA)
  • No. 4 100 Brands 2019 (EMEA)