“Convert Data into Useful Information”

I remembered the quote above very well and it stuck in my head for so long that it became the driver that I live by. Most people do not know how to make use of it, but what they don’t realize is that everyone of us is part of the data that is constantly being used by big corporations – for good and bad.

This blog is not intended to provide the pros and cons of data usage but to highlight how looking at data differently could help you in your career.

My career has always been assisting managers, stakeholders and customers in understanding data. Data in its current form is useless – that’s where my role comes in by converting and massaging the data into useful information.

I spent countless of years in reporting information to my managers. My career soon took me from reporting directly to my managers to reporting to business heads, to the board of directors and the US regulators. I find it fascinating and challenging at the same time. My role went from detail reporting to high level summary.

For the past 5 years I’ve been knee deep in changing my ways of working. Instead of focusing on getting the right data, I’ve becoming more analytical. It is a whole different mindset when I started to look at the data more closely and making sense of what it is telling me. Data in itself is not that interesting until you start to peel it, massage it and linking it.

My current role involves providing high level information to the board of directors. These individuals are people (majority of them are independent from the company) who have oversight of the company. They make important decisions and determine the directions of the company. The board members require information to do their job correctly. To achieve that they require various functions within the company to provide them the information that they can act on.

Board members usually came from other companies and their schedule usually prevents them from spending time reading pages and pages of materials on a quarterly basis. For the past several years my team and I have been challenged in summarizing our data into shortest form without losing the message. One thing I learn is “keep things simple” – avoid using big words that do not add any value. When writing summary for business heads and upper management, less is more.

I could go on in giving various pointers but it will take days, weeks and even months to go over every one of them. Perhaps I may consider writing a book just on this subject.

Are you involved in management reporting and require insights on how to do your work better? Feel free to drop me a line.

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