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What Skills Will Data and Technology Leaders of the Future Need?

The things AI might get right and the things it doesn't.

The idea of thinking through what skills the future leaders of data and technology would need excited me. I went about researching this idea by pulling as many current leadership job descriptions in the data and analytics space as I could find. I then turned to the wonderful tools in AI to help me summarize the skills required for the various roles. The output was interesting for the most part. What surprised me most was turning to AI for an image of what future leaders of data and technology might look like. I wasn't exactly sure what I get in return and I made several attempts for some sort of eye-catching graphic or image for this blog post. I immediately noticed a trend. Not a single female was pictured.

As I think forward to my future career goals I always thought about the learnings and skills but it didn't hit me that one challenge could still be a dated image of what leadership looks like in an organization. Diverse perspectives support business growth and development. Let's not think like AI.

The imagery isn't accurate but then I began reading the summary output. Here's a breakdown of the crucial skills future data and technology leaders will need to excel.

Technical Expertise

  • AI & Machine Learning Fluency: Understanding the fundamentals, potential, and limitations of AI models. Ability to guide and incorporate AI for data analysis and business solutions.

  • Cloud Architecture Mastery: In-depth knowledge of major cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, GCP), optimizing cloud-based data analysis and storage solutions.

  • Cybersecurity Acumen: Strong focus on data protection, threat detection, and security standards to guard against evolving threats.

  • Expertise in Emerging Technologies: Staying ahead of the curve on technologies like blockchain, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) for potential applications.

Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking

  • Translating Data to Value: The ability to bridge the gap between data insights and impactful business outcomes, demonstrating the ROI of data initiatives.

  • Data-Driven Innovation: Thinking strategically to foster innovation with data, product development, and new business models.

  • Commercial Mindset: Understanding broader market trends, competitive landscapes, and customer needs to shape data-focused strategies.

  • Leading Change: Skillfully guiding organizations towards effective data management processes and embracing a data-driven culture at all levels.

Leadership & Interpersonal Skills

  • Visionary Communication: Articulating compelling narratives on how data and tech shape industries and society, internally and externally.

  • Empathy & Collaboration: Building strong relationships across diverse teams and fostering open communication to encourage problem-solving.

  • Mentorship & Development: Investing in talent growth to nurture the next generation of data and tech leaders and ensuring diversity of thought.

  • Ethical Leadership: Championing responsible data use and ensuring fairness, privacy, and transparency in algorithms and decision-making.

Beyond the Hard Skills

  • Growth Mindset: Actively seeking new knowledge and adaptability to the evolving tech landscape.

  • Resilience: Bouncing back from setbacks and driving innovation with persistence.

  • Humility: Recognizing that no one has all the answers, openness to learning from others.

How to Prepare

  • Continuous Learning: Embrace online courses, conferences, and self-directed study to stay updated.

  • Get Hands-On: Seek out project opportunities to apply new technologies, even on a smaller scale.

  • Network: Connect with other leaders, mentors, and communities across the data and tech sectors.

  • Focus on Soft Skills: Actively practice communication, leadership, and collaboration within your current role.

What is missing from the list? What did AI get right and what didn't it? Where are its uses and its limitations?


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