ABOUT

Hi, I'm Prakash Baskar

On this site, I share all that I have learned in the process of becoming a Datapreneur. 


We will cover strategies, tactics, and lessons-learned from wins, successes, failures, mistakes, and setbacks across 20+ years of my business-technology career spanning several industry segments.


During this period, I worked or consulted for employers/clients across global corporations, including United Airlines, Ascena Retail Group, Santander, JP Morgan Chase, Claraview, GE Health Care, Eastern Michigan University, and Ashok Leyland, to name a few.


Through large-scale transformation work partnering with senior business leaders, my experiences evolved across data and business-technology, then operating as a business leader leveraging data, analytics, and insights.


Many of these opportunities came with several million-dollar budgets, globally distributed teams of hundreds of employees, consultants, and company-wide transformation agenda.

ABOUT

Hi, I'm Prakash Baskar

On this site, I share all that I have learned in the process of becoming a Datapreneur. 


We will cover topics related to successes, failures, missteps, and lessons learned from over 24 years of my business/technology career spanning several industry segments.


During this period, I worked or consulted for employers and clients across global corporations, including United Airlines, Ascena Retail Group, Santander, JPMorganChase, Claraview, GE Health Care, Eastern Michigan University, and Ashok Leyland, to name a few.


Through large-scale transformation work partnering with senior business leaders, my experiences evolved across data and business-technology, then operating as a business leader driving change by leveraging data, analytics, and insights.


Many of these opportunities came with several million-dollar budgets, globally distributed teams of hundreds of employees consultants, and company-wide transformation agenda.

What is the Datapreneur Initiative?

Successful data leaders operate more like business owners.

They have a keen sense of talent spotting, crisis management, negotiation, contracts/vendor management, marketing, communication, and many other common skills among successful entrepreneurs. 

Not everyone gets to have the experience of working across the spectrum of business and technology areas. Depending on our professional background, we all have our strengths and blind-spots. 

However, as you may be experiencing, data leadership roles (CDO or otherwise) are getting complicated with increased expectations, coverage requirements, and dwindling time-to-results window. 

If we are to operate as an Intrapreneur, we need unconventional ideas and unconventional approaches.

In short, we must run the data function as a business unit. Be resourceful and creative in your approach, be agile, cost-effective, and operate with a consistent focus on alignment with company strategy, goals, and performance. 

My main business is around the corpsulting work that we do through Khyanafi. In working through our projects, I frequently find myself an "unofficial" coach for data leaders.

Through this Datapreneur site, I will discuss many of those situational discussions (without disclosing personal or company details) and my experience leading data functions for global corporations. 

I firmly believe that as data leaders, we can do more if we have the right talent to support us. 

For those data leaders, aspiring data leaders, and Chief Data Officers who want more in-depth conversations with me related to their situation, our Coaching and mentoring programs provides that opportunity to work directly with me.


I may not have all the answers, but I will undoubtedly ask the difficult questions, help brainstorm unconventional ideas, and accelerate your career and improve outstanding results.

My Datapreneurship Journey

Our career path combines planned and accidental steps we have taken over across our various jobs. We are moving from role to role, team to team, and company to company. The only thing that remains constant is the learning we take along with us to the next step.

Early "accidental" entry into the world of data

Like many of you, I started my foray into data/analytics by chance. Early in my career, I managed a production shop with an automobile manufacturer.


We needed to plan better for keeping up productivity, anticipate equipment breakdowns, plan maintenance windows, and address quality problems while keeping costs low. It was here that I took an initial attempt at increasing our ability to capture, integrate, and analyze data.


Later, during the years working through my master's degree in Information Systems, out of sheer luck, I got a campus job that involved managing data, creating reports, and providing analytics for the University President's office.


The bulk of our work was about understanding student retention, attrition, graduation performance, the effectiveness of under-graduate counseling, and student support activities. My job then extended to supported research on data and data protection practices' legal and ethical use.

"Learn the system first before trying to change it."

Over the next few years after graduation, I was confident in my data expertise. I could work across the entire set of data functions. 


Due to my love for architecture, I quickly gravitated to that area, which meant I got into the gray area between Business and Technology and worked with subject matter experts and leadership teams. In one of the projects, out of curiosity to show progress early on, I got ahead too fast. I was trying to showcase my data expertise by doing my analysis, pointing out flaws, and suggesting alternate ways of doing things.


I failed to understand the team dynamics, internal processes, constraints, and leadership personalities across the teams involved. 

The data leader advised me right after a critical meeting. "Prakash, I am not negating anything that you are saying. But, you need to learn the system first before trying to change it". That comment forever changed the way I worked. I instantly realized that my data expertise had gotten me thus far. It's time to get some new learning if I must transition to becoming a data leader.

The six-minute call that got me in an uncomfortable role

It was a lovely sunny morning one early August when my manager informed me that I would be getting a call from a technology leader looking to hire me for a consulting role that would last for two months. My phone promptly rang within the next 2 hours.


The entire conversation lasted six minutes, and I joined the team the following Monday.What I did not know at that time was that it was no regular consulting engagement. A larger company had purchased a smaller firm, and they were working through post-M&A integration.


There was no full-time presence from the acquiring firm, and I had no reporting manager onsite, no assigned projects, no definition of what I need to do.In a panic, I called my consulting manager after a week and told him that I was lost and didn't know what I am supposed to do there.


His response, "When people are not communicating to you what they want from you, it's either that they do not know or they cannot tell you. Considering the current scenario, it's probably both.

If you are running the show, what would you look for, and how will you approach it? Just do that".


Powerful words that provided another essential perspective. The transition from expert status to leader status happens when we start operating as a leader.


Titles can wait. Working at a level much ahead of our current state gives an undue advantage, as it did for me.

The job offer after a 4-hour white-boarding session

After a couple of months, an interim leader came into the scene. A few months after that, the acquiring firm appointed a permanent leader. 


On Day 1 of his visit to the acquired company site, I had a 4-hour white-boarding session with the new manager. We covered platforms, technology, organization, talent, stakeholders, budget, and everything relevant. What started as a 2-month project had already extended into its sixth month. I had everything prepared to hand-over and move out. 


The next day, after a long meeting, I walked into the office, and the new manager offered me a job and wanted me to join them, leading analysis and architecture. The best part of it was that there were no interviews, no negotiations.

Transformation into a Datapreneur

While various circumstances may present themselves, we are responsible for creating possibilities to move us ahead after a particular stage in our career. More and more, posted jobs become meaningless for our growth, and we need to enable the creation of roles that are a custom fit for us. That's what I focused on for the next ten years.


When you become a sponge for information, your potential value within the organization goes up. Understanding and being in the know-how of several broader aspects of the organization becomes critical. These include information on how the business operates, the rising stars in the organization, and new opportunities.


It is also essential to effectively mobilize a team of outstanding talent, reorganize for delivering exceptional results with fewer people, and move faster than traditional groups that can do the same work. While all the aspects of data expertise were still useful, I found that to be a Datapreneur, my second line's (direct reports) effectiveness was of utmost importance. If you have a few people who can think and operate at your pace, the team output can be phenomenal.


Additionally, I followed a 3-year rule approach for career mobility that one of my mentors provided. I also made sure to go after challenging, difficult, or chaotic situations. That's how you grow as a leader and not by playing it safe.

Just a 6-people team? Are you sure?

"We have estimated internally that a team of 6 people will suffice for this group", stated my future manager as I was interviewing with him. 


The first real all-day interview that I was doing for a Data Governance leader role. My first actual interview in 14 years, as all the other job roles were offered to me either through people seeing the work first-hand or through referral, in which case it was a more comfortable discussion. 


I explained that their assessment was incorrect, and there will be a more considerable need, and we will revisit when more information is available. The team grew from three people in the first month to about 48 by the end of one year, and indirect responsibility for the work of over 150. 


My position grew into Chief Data Officer, with senior leaders from several global entities of the parent company reaching out to discuss strategy, approach, road map development, and planning. 


Too often, we see what is and avoid seeing ahead into what it could become when evaluating opportunities. Also, extending your influence into other areas or entities of the company is an underutilized opportunity to lead with data on a larger scale across the company. 

Hierarchies exist for getting work done, but they need not prevent a leader's range of engagement and value creation.

Bringing it all together

Switching out of the corporate career to run my firm focused on Corpsulting (no, it's not a typo) has allowed me to work with more people working at the intersection of data and business outcomes.

When they realize I am not a career-consultant and have been in their shoes facing some of the same challenges they have, having some of the same problems, issues, and opportunities they have, the conversation turns more open and fluid. This website is where it all comes together. It is to help people like you in the data area, grow in your careers, provide differentiated, unconventional insights about pressing data leadership challenges, and provide varied approaches for succeeding in your roles as datapreneurs.

What's Next? The motive behind my work

I view work as the most significant expression of my creativity. Good work is a way to challenge ourselves and grow continuously. Great work requires that we become a better person. There is no shortcut.

Unless transformation is happening overall, our ability to influence change and deliver results will be limited. Intentions alone do not yield outcomes. We need to increase the success rate of data initiatives. That does not happen just by technology or more processes or more data. The way data leadership happens must change.

There is enough internal politics, ignorance of the power of data, and uphill battles within organizations. There is a need to develop and rightly empower leaders who can work through these challenges and deliver. Through my work here, even if I can influence only a few data leaders and the way they work, and convert them into Datapreneurs, I would achieve my goal.

 WORK IS THE REWARD!!!

Ready to start your journey as a Datapreneur? Become an insider.

Ready to start your journey as a Datapreneur? Become an insider.

It's time to step up and take your data leadership skills to a new level. Get notified of my blog posts and other content. Let's get unconventional insights delivered to you.

It's time to step up and take your data leadership skills to a new level. Get notified of my blog posts and other content. Let's get unconventional insights delivered to you.

Your career level
Please Select One
  • Data Expert
  • Aspiring Data Leader
  • Rising Data Leader
  • Seasoned Data Leader