Using Curiosity to Increase Data Utilization with Mark Marshalek, Ep #17


In this episode of Tech Talent Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Mark Marshalek. Mark has worked in the insurance and financial services industry for over 25 years. During his tenure, he has held various roles ranging from claim representative, internal audit, finance, strategy, and risk management. Currently, he’s the Head of Data Governance, part of the Chief Data Organization at Farmers. Mark has followed a non-traditional path to the data space and firmly believes that self-development, curiosity, and willingness to take risks are crucial keys to success. Listen to learn how he continues to apply these principles to himself and his team.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • The education aspect [01:43]
  • Improving skills through hackathons [07:31]
  • Benefits for the presenter [11:51]
  • Attributes Mark looks for in a team member [17:04]
  • The most important aspect of data governance [26:17]
  • Mark’s journey to data [32:04]
  • The future of office environments [41:15]

Data and analytics for everyone

Many companies are looking to increase the use of data within their organizations. One of the biggest challenges these organizations are facing is overcoming the education aspect. When people look at data and analytics, they often become overwhelmed. They don’t see themselves as “data people.” These mindsets and assumptions need to be broken down in light of the many available avenues to learn about data and analytics. People can tap into resources such as webinars, YouTube channels, and podcasts to learn that analytics is a skill they can acquire.

Hackathons are one of the mechanisms for improving data skills that have had a successful response. Hackathons encourage employees to work together to solve problems. Because these problems are often issues the company already needs to address, the company also benefits. The groups of employees tend to be a cross-section of individuals from various parts of the organization, so they have a cross-pollination of activities, ideas, and skill levels. Also, the employees can develop by asking questions of those individuals who know specific things about data and analytics.

The key to data engagement

Some people are understandably uncomfortable presenting in front of a larger audience. However, if they choose to proceed, they will gain a skill that will help them as they grow in their careers. Sometimes individuals downplay what they’ve created or what they’re doing. Encouraging coworkers to reach out to presenters is helpful for everyone. The presenter sees that sharing skills is helpful to others in a way that perhaps they were too close to see before. Learning this skill and its benefits in a safe environment is a great way to discover one’s individualistic style rather than waiting to be in a situation that doesn’t permit so much flexibility.

Creating interest in data and analytics isn’t necessarily done with training and technologies. Interest depends more on having the right people leading the way who are encouraging and willing to help. These people have the right energy level and technical knowledge to show and help people navigate. One of the essential factors in any sort of data and analytic journey is having the right group of individuals with the right energy, passion, and willingness to interact with those who are learning. The more enthusiastic people in an organization, the more other employees will be engaged.

Interviewing for curiosity’s sake

When Mark interviews for his team, he’s not necessarily looking for a candidate’s technical knowledge. While those things are important, he tries to gauge the individual’s energy level. The type of questions people ask and how they behave is usually a good indicator of how curious they are. When people are curious, they ask questions and have an inquisitive look about them. The mindset of curiosity, constantly looking and exploring, is one of the best skills an employee can have. Curious people are willing to be successful and willing to fail. They will constantly ask questions to find ways to improve things.

Mark likes to ask candidates what they’re working on from a developmental perspective. The answer can be personal or professional. Having examples of both can be helpful because Mark doesn’t want to hire someone solely focused on work. Personal development is an indication of curiosity. In the same line, Mark asks candidates about their greatest accomplishments and disappointments. Some people will jump into what they believe the interviewer wants to hear, but some will share personal experiences. Sharing those experiences shows Mark that a person is more balanced and grounded. Mark wants that type of person because he can trust them to do a great job and take care of the business.

Change management and communication are the foundation of any successful data governance program. #DataGovernance #Data Share on X

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mark Marshalek

Connect With Jodi Kulek Mayer

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