Master Builders: The Foundations of Good Data Management

May 20, 2021
United Kingdom
Data & ID

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As the UK government looks ahead to plot a course through the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world, senior leaders are focusing on the huge opportunities around better use of data: as the National Data Strategy makes clear, the government’s existing data assets could provide the fuel to power UK PLC in an increasingly digital environment.

But to realise that potential – linking up disjointed public services, strengthening evidence-based policymaking and supporting innovation – civil servants must address some of the foundational issues around how data is gathered, managed and exchanged. Without robust data governance and clear policies on how data is deployed, government bodies will struggle both to build public and business confidence in the agenda, and to deploy data in policymaking, management and service delivery.

The solutions lie in finding ways to ‘master’ data across government – creating persistent keys to allow data to be matched and exchanged between departments, connect up services and eliminate duplication. Featuring senior data leaders from the UK civil service alongside external experts, this webinar discussed how the UK civil service can seize the opportunities lying within its rich data assets.


Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.

Joshua Harris-Kirkwood, Head of Data Availability and CDEI Sponsorship, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, United Kingdom

Josh is a career Civil Servant with a particular interest in digital policy. Prior to his current role setting up and leading the Data Economy Innovation team in DCMS, Josh worked on Online Harms policy and operations, including leading the cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit in the early months of the pandemic. Josh has previously worked at a number of other Departments including Cabinet Office and Home Office. 


Dr Ziv Baida, Consultant, Insights Unboxed

Dr. Ziv Baida is a strategic advisor, mentor and educator with almost 20 years of experience in designing, selling and delivering data, technology and digital solutions, with a focus on the Government sector and the Global Trade ecosystem. Among others, he designed and implemented an innovative data solution that has been used by the European Commission to promote Free Trade Agreements in the last few years. He holds an MSc degree in Computer Science and a PhD degree in Information Management, runs the blog Insights Unboxed about doing business in the data, technology and digital space, and he is the author of numerous publications in journals, books and conferences.

Imam Hoque, Chief Product Officer (CPO), Quantexa

Imam has spent 30+ years in IT, specialising in data driven AI solutions with a focus on network analysis for fraud detection. Formerly the creator/director BAE Systems Detica NetReveal, prior to Quantexa, Imam led the SAS’ EMEA/AP Financial Crime. Since pioneering network analytics to fight financial crime in 2004, Imam and his team have saved billions in tax evasion and fraud across government and financial institutions. He was instrumental in setting up the Insurance Fraud Bureau and the NFIB.


Thom Townsend, OpenOwnership’s Executive Director, United Kingdom

Thom Townsend is OpenOwnership’s Executive Director and chief strategist. He directs implementation efforts and works with their partners to maximise impact. His focus is on making sure they deliver their goal of ensuring the world has more open, usable information about who ultimately owns and controls companies. Thom is an expert on open data and was previously Head of Data Policy for the UK government. He has led some of the UK’s biggest open data commitments at the national and global level, and has spent his career ensuring that good data is being produced and used inside and outside of government. Thom led the open contracting elements of the 2016 London Anti Corruption Summit and it was here that the real push towards open, usable beneficial ownership data got started and OpenOwnership was born. It was clear that beneficial ownership disclosure is the last link in the long chain required to follow the money and the next frontier to work on, which is why Thom left Government and now leads OpenOwnership.

Sally Block, Vice President, Global Sales for Government Solutions, Dun & Bradstreet

Sally Block is the Vice President of Global Sales for Dun & Bradstreet Public Sector, where she leads the growth strategy for the global government market. In her twenty-five years in business data and analytics, Sally has been responsible for Dun & Bradstreet’s work with major government programs, helping agencies identify financial risk and opportunity, protect our food and drug supply chains, and empower economic development and recovery. Sally is passionate about her role as a people leader to a global sales workforce of dedicated, creative thinkers who aim to support good government.