My guest this week is Tim Carmichael, CDO at Chalhoub Group. Tim’s career spans across interesting roles as a CDO and CAO both in the private and public sector, and notably for the British Army. There are so many reasons to listen to what Tim has to say, but it’s his snappy Elton John-style dressing that seals the deal for me.
Tim’s LinkedIn profile shares his three big learnings as a Data Leader. I haven’t seen anyone share something like this and I was pleased to be able to delve deeper into each area:
- It's not just about data, it's about culture too.
- Keep the message simple and compelling.
- Data is most relevant when it is exploited to generate business value.
These are suggestions that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone managing a data team, to take to heart.
Tim shares his thoughts with an honesty and humility that I am sure you’ll find as refreshing as I did throughout our conversation. He will compel you to listen, without preaching or shouting. Even while serving in the British Army, a place commonly known for shouting orders, Tim led through servant leadership. He told me, “It's certainly not a style that will translate into any other meaningful endeavor outside the very rare occasions where an order is the right thing to do. So I certainly left that behind, or any vestiges of that behind.”
Tim continues that focus on servant leadership even today at Chalhoub Group. He defines servant leadership as “where others matter more than the individual, and certainly matters more than the individual's ego. So for me, the definition of servant leadership is the default setting where I am there to serve my team and set them up for success, rather than have the team report to me in a more traditional line management structure.” For data teams, servant leadership means that “we welcome feedback as part of our culture, in the team and in wider Chalhoub […] empowerment is one of the facets of servant leadership, where you empower people to have an opinion and to be as good as they can be.”
On the technical side of things, Chalhoub has implemented the Google stack, and is a user of Google Cloud Platform, BigQuery, and Looker. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) he shared “we're at a very early stage of maturity, and I'm entirely unashamed about that.” Tim didn’t feel the need to keep up with the technical Joneses’. That doesn’t mean Tim will never use AI, however he knows that recommendations and personalization can’t “be solved in a simple fashion, and those are our early machine learning use cases.”
Tim is a strong advocate of work-life balance. “And that's a selfish act, and it's a selfish act because I know I get more out of people if I insist that they don't compromise on their work-life balance either. [...] Well, our work is not really ever done, but we should stop anyway.”
This was a great interview - a fantastic way to kick off season one and an episode that you won’t want to miss. Check it out to hear even more of Tim’s thoughts.
- Read the transcript of this episode
- Find book recommendations and more resources for data professionals at dreamteam.soda.io