Data Governance Interview with Theerachai Aurprasertwong

It was an honor to be asked to travel to Thailand to deliver training last December. I had the most amazing three days with Theerachai and his wider team. I was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed for my blog, to share some of his experiences with you.

Theerachai is experienced in data governance and data architecture with more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Outside of work, he is the father of a 6-year-old son and enjoys playing badminton, horse riding, archery, and skiing.

How long have you been working in Data Governance?

Totally, 10 years. Five years at the business consulting firm. The other five years at the current work (Krungsri Bank).

Some people view Data Governance as an unusual career choice, would you mind sharing how you got into this area of work?

When I worked as a data architecture under the enterprise architecture team, data quality was one of the most frequent and most important issues that we handled in the project. So, I stepped in, little by little.  I’ve fixed both short-term and long-term DQ issues. Along the way, I realized that data quality can’t be fixed on a project basis. It needs a dedicated structure and framework to keep it in good shape. A few years later, I decided to work full time to build data governance from scratch at Krungsri Bank. That was when the real data governance journey began.

What characteristics do you have that make you successful at Data Governance and why?

You need good common sense and always to be open to ideas and knowledge from outside. When you are stuck at something and your research on the internet, some concepts/discussions/articles seem impractical and unrealistic. However, if you apply them with your common sense, it can be very useful in certain situations.

Are there any particular books or resources that you would recommend as useful support for those starting out in Data Governance?

Books and articles on the internet are great.  To be honest, I could not understand what Data Governance was after I read my 1st Data Governance Book.  Learning by doing is my best approach. If you have a budget, you can engage an expert from time to time to do a health check on your data governance framework.

What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in a Data Governance implementation?

The biggest challenge is to turn the concept into reality. All those concepts online can look like the dreams of people from Mars!  Great communication may not enough, you need a practical way to apply data governance over time.

Is there a company or industry you would particularly like to help implement Data Governance for and why?

Many years ago, Data Governance was popular only in financial services and the telecommunication industry.  Now, every organization in which AI/ML or data analytics are the core competency needs a strong data governance practice. Moreover, it cannot be constructed in a few months or years. It takes time and evolution.

What single piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in Data Governance?

Data governance is not a sexy job compared to data science or data analytics. It is not an IT project, it is the business matter. However, it will pay out great benefits to the organization and yourself over time.

Finally, I wondered if you could share a memorable data governance experience?

Some data fields are very contentious. We have had a meeting with 20+ data stewards and we spent 4 hours trying to get an agreement on “Who is our active customer?”. We couldn’t get an agreement that day. Everyone felt exhausted and unproductive. I couldn’t remember exactly how we accomplished the first version for the data dictionary. However, it was the tipping point that shapes us today.  These days, those people are now our influencers/promoters who help us to build and sustain data governance.

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