Governing Body Spotlight

Co-Chair of the UK & Ireland CDAO Community

Alexandra Sidgreaves

Chief Data Officer

Zurich Insurance Company UK

Alexandra Sidgreaves is the Chief Data Officer at Zurich Insurance Company UK. She has held a variety of data and analytics roles at Zurich Insurance over her 19 years there. 

Learn more about the UK & Ireland CDAO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

In 2005, fresh from completing a programming degree at university, I joined Zurich Insurance as an MI Analyst, where my career in data began.

In the early 2010s, I took on the responsibility of overseeing the transformation of the UK data team at Zurich. I focused on industrialising and formalising our processes, turning the team of analysts into a fully-fledged "Data" function with rigorous standards and diverse expertise. The next stage in my career saw me leading the DataOps area, which involved insourcing our data capabilities and creating and operating a fully in-house data platform for the P&C business, fully delivered within an agile framework.

The next phase was a move into Data Architecture, establishing the Data Architecture practice. In this role, I created and embedded the concepts and processes that underpin data within the organisation.

Latterly, I took up the role of 'Head of Data,' where I assumed accountability for the entire UK Data landscape. I led a second round of transformation, consolidating UK data into a central estate as part of a multi-year program. This is where vision and strategy became a crucial part of my remit, alongside the need to build relationships. Fostering trust and buy-in from across the business were key to the success of this award-winning transformation.

Since 2022, I have been the UK Chief Data Officer. The focus now is on driving value, innovation and growth throughout the organisation and supporting delivery of the wider UK strategy. Key to this is strengthening the relationships between Data and business functions, ensuring data experts work alongside those involved in driving the business forward.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Lead with authenticity: Be true to yourself, transparent in your actions, and build trust by valuing diversity and treating others with respect.

With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CDAO going in the next 1-2 years?

The focus over the next period will be to ensure we enable our business to deliver on its strategic goals through data, alongside empowering the organisation through upskilling to embrace data and its opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CDAO?

Prioritise relationship building and understand the business they are working in. This role is heavily people-oriented, so it is important to proactively build relationships and not wait for others to come to you. Take the time to understand the business' problems and what it cares about, focusing on delivering value and speaking the language of the business. 

It is crucial to have a strategy that aligns with the business goals and be an advocate for the value of data, proving it through tangible outcomes. Investing in diverse data talent and embracing innovation are essential for success, as is continually evolving and learning from others outside of your organisation.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. I have an insatiable appetite for good food and consider myself a true foodie. Exploring diverse cuisines, experimenting with flavours, and discovering hidden culinary gems are some of my greatest pleasures.
  2. Gaming is my ultimate escape; I can effortlessly lose track of time in the captivating realms of virtual worlds. With a controller in hand and a passion for immersive gameplay, I dive headfirst into epic quests, intense battles, and thrilling adventures.
  3. I have a serious Lego addiction, so much so that I've built shelves in my home to accommodate my ever-growing collection. Alas, my obsession is so intense that I've already run out of space and need to construct even more shelves!

What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?

Being a member of the community offers real industry experiences, networking, and inspiration. It keeps you informed and connected with peers in your field providing fantastic access to thought leadership, best practices, honest open debate and advice.

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

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