Go west: 2015 Data Steward of the Year lands in California


social-tile-datulaIt's Data Stewards Day! I could barely sleep last night after decorating the office with old floppy disks and outmoded data governance presentations from 2008. (Editor's note: That didn't happen, but it's a great idea for next year.)

Yes, for anybody who lives and loves data, this is truly "the most wonderful time of the year."

This is especially so for Cheryl Swope, a systems software specialist with the California Employment Development Department. She is the winner of the 2015 Data Steward of the Year award, joining a select group of great data management professionals from the past.

Cheryl's colleagues noted that she was the "data brain" within her agency. She has been everything from a SAS administrator to an ETL programmer to an information architect. Through all of that, she has gained valuable insights into her organization's data structures.

IMG_0689More importantly, her cohorts noted, "She coaches and trains business users to empower them with new skills that support a self-service environment." Teaching others to make sense of their data mess? That's a true data steward.

Cheryl beat out a strong field that included a first for the Data Steward of the Year competition. An entire team of data stewards in the UK were nominated by their boss. Other nominees included data stewards at banks, technology companies and a variety of other industries, showing how prevalent the data stewardship role continues to be.

That's no surprise. During the first Data Stewards Day in 2011, the spectre of big data was on the horizon but was still a problem for tomorrow. People talked about the volume, velocity and variety of data, yet there was still a business-as-usual stance in many IT departments.

Today? The data world has changed. That's why the "theme" of the 2015 Data Stewards Day was classic monster movies. People often talk about their data in awed terms, wondering how they are going to deal with the onslaught. At the same time, data stewards get up every day, log in and try to maintain order.

It's not getting any easier. In the past few years, we've seen the rise of the Internet of Things and streaming data. Add to that, there's a new class of data consumers – often called data scientists – who are equipped to mine big, streaming data to find the value in the new waves of big data reaching the organization. As a result, there's never been a better time for people who understand how data is organized, managed and curated. The world of the data steward continues to get more challenging.

That's why it's important to celebrate people like Cheryl. They may be unsung in the business world at large, but she is making a big difference in her organization. And her colleagues know it. So, congratulations to Cheryl and to all the nominees out there.

Happy Data Stewards Day!


About Author

Daniel Teachey

Managing Editor, SAS Technologies

Daniel is a member of the SAS External Communications team, and in his current role, he works closely with global marketing groups to generate content about data management, analytics and cloud computing. Prior to this, he managed marketing efforts for DataFlux, helping the company go from a niche data quality software provider to a world leader in data management solutions.

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