Robin Sutara is Chief Data Officer at Microsoft UK. It’s an increasingly critical role at many businesses today, as organisations use data to unlock unique insights into how they operate and help them serve their customers. However, that information must be collected, stored and used in the right way. Here, Robin tells us more about her role.
Role: Chief Data Officer, Microsoft UK
Family: Husband and four girls spanning the ages of 15 to 25
Hobbies: Triathlons. My longest race so far has been a 70.3-mile IronMan, but I’ve also run five marathons. I’m currently training for a full 140.6-mile IronMan. I love competing against myself and pushing myself to do better.
Tell us about your role
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person on the planet to achieve more, and that empowerment is only possible with an understanding of data within an organisation. Microsoft has been on its own digital transformation journey for several years and data has been central to that journey. I focus on creating a data culture at Microsoft, from the leadership team down to each employee. This includes ensuring that we are considering data across our internal processes, as well as how we are helping our customers and partners succeed with data.
What are your aims in this role?
The UK is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. I learn from our customers and partners about how to truly leverage data and artificial intelligence. I collaborate with them to create amazing new solutions and technologies to support how we live – from shopping and banking to healthcare. Data is everywhere, and we can use it in a reliable, ethical and compliant way to help companies, organisations and individuals.
Why are Chief Data Officer roles being created across companies and sectors?
Chief Data Officer (CDO) is an interesting role. It is a relatively new function in organisations but covers a variety of responsibilities, from driving data technology decisions, to creating data-driven cultures and identifying data-centric opportunities.
How should companies think about their data?
Data is the most strategic asset of any organisation. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that no business is immune to sudden changes, but organisations that have an established data culture and capabilities are more agile and can pivot to better serve their customers.
As the world continues its recovery from the pandemic, data is going to be critically important for organisations. It will help them understand their customers and employees, and allow them to think about the opportunities that sharing data can bring. They can start to think of data as a strategic asset for their own organisation and the value they can bring to their suppliers, customers and employees.
What other roles have you held at Microsoft?
I have been at Microsoft for more than two decades, after serving in the US Army and repairing computer hardware. Throughout my time at Microsoft, I have had the opportunity to leverage data to bring better experiences, improved knowledge and efficient operations in roles such as consumer support engineer, technical account manager and business operations manager. Most recently, I held the role of Chief of Staff, where I was responsible for all the operations and business management functions for the Corporate Vice President for the Azure Data engineering organisation.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Keeping up with the latest innovations in AI is the best and hardest part of my job. It is exciting to think about what could be possible in the future, but staying informed and aware requires a huge amount of time. Luckily, I enjoy learning.
What’s the best part of your job?
The opportunity to learn. Every day I have the opportunity to meet with customers and partners who are doing new things with data. By bringing those learnings and best practices into Microsoft, I can help the company continue to evolve.
What are you most proud of?
I love helping customers use Microsoft technology that empowers them to achieve more. I’m proud to be part of collaborative efforts that have a positive impact on people’s lives.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by being part of such a great organisation. I have been with Microsoft for many years, and I continue to see the care for employees, customers and partners – whether that relates to diversity, inclusion, sustainability or skills.
What is your favourite Microsoft product?
I am very excited about the potential of Azure Synapse Analytics and Azure Purview. To be able to derive insights and govern various types of data from one place, across on-premise, the cloud and at the edge will create many opportunities for businesses. It is going to create new ways to innovate, and do so quickly. I’m excited to see what our customers and partners are able to achieve.
What was the first piece of technology that you were excited about?
Windows 95. It was the first piece of software that I had the opportunity to dig into after several years working with hardware. Moving from command line to a GUI interface was an amazing, new experience. When I look at the no-code, low-code capabilities being created today, it’s exciting to see what can be created by our customers and partners.