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Irina Steenbeek

Irina Steenbeek

Data Management Practitioner & Coach | Data Lineage Expert | Founder of Data Crossroads ( |Author: the ‘Orange’ model of data management implementation & The Data Management Toolkit

I am a data management practitioner and coach with more than 11 years of experience. I assist executive data management (DM) professionals in assessing data management’s maturity and performance, implementing or optimizing data management frameworks, and developing a data lineage business case. For that, I offer ready-for-use step-by-step methodologies.

Author of ” Data Lineage from Business Perspective,” “The Orange Model of Data Management,” “The Data Management Toolkit,” and “The Data Management Cookbook,” various white papers and series of blogs on the topics of data management.

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

My path to data management was not straightforward. Before joining the community of data management professionals, I earned a Ph.D. in reinforced-concrete construction and an MBA in Finance; I worked in management consultancy and ERP implementations.

Eleven years ago, I joined a medium-sized company. My first challenge was to develop an automated management accounting reporting system. When we started implementing a data warehousing solution, one of the consultants came to me and said, “I heard that we might need data management. I don’t know what it is. Check it.” I started Googling “Data management.”

At this point, my career in data management started. Several reasons kept me pursuing this career:

  • Data management is a “never-ending story” and gives many opportunities for professional development.

Constant changes in the business environment, especially in the area of legislative requirements and technology development, lead to changes in data management. So, you as a professional, are motivated for continuous professional development.

  • Data management brings challenges every day.

As a data management professional, you are never bored. Every day brings you new challenges to address.

  • What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

I am proud of several of my career accomplishments, and they all link to each other. These are: establishing my company “Data Crossroads,” publishing four books that describe my methodology to implement data management and designing a data management framework in a leading international company.

The key motivation in establishing my company was a desire to express my data management vision and share my practical experience. Initially, I implemented data management using existing frameworks and methodologies. I found that the majority are not focused on practical implementation. It brought me to the idea to transfer my practical experience into a methodology that I call the “Orange” data management framework. I shared this methodology in several books: “Data Management Toolkit,” “Data Lineage from Business Perspectives,” and “The Orange Model.” Last year, I had a great opportunity to implement these methods at one of the largest international companies.

  • What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

I would like to address three of the biggest challenges:

  • Different data management and maturity models have great conceptual differences.

One of the key data management principles is having a common business glossary and data models within a company. However, in the data management community, we lack common terminology and models.

In the last couple of years, I have done many investigations on the differences and commonalities between various data management (DM), DM maturity, and enterprise architecture models. This analysis brought me to the development of the “Orange” model. This model intends to overcome the challenges I found in existing models. I described it in the book “The ‘Orange’ Model of Data Management.”

  • Lack of practical focus in existing data management guides.

In my book, “The Data Management Toolkit,” I shared the step-by-step approach to implementing a data management framework.

  • Usage of data lineage

For the last five years, I have participated in the implementation of technical data lineage. Data lineage is one of the most complex concepts in metadata management. Data lineage assists in complying with multiple regulations and enabling some other capabilities such as data quality checks, etc.

The real challenge is not the implementation of data lineage. The greatest challenge is to bring it into the daily tasks of business users. I shared my experience in my new book that will be published shortly: “Data Lineage from Business Perspectives.”

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

Three key factors influence the changes: growth in data volumes and sources; new technologies in data processing and analysis; the increased role of data in business operations.

Therefore, the level of authority of data management and IT function and the role of CDO will get more authority and power within a business. However, these changes will also bring additional investments and costs to business.

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

For the next six-twelve months, I have challenging plans.

Firstly, as I have mentioned above, I will publish my new book, “Data Lineage from Business Perspectives.” Unlike previous books, I would like to make some online presentations. I also intend to develop and deliver a master class “The nine-step method of developing a data lineage business case.”

Secondly, I have started finalizing the “Orange” data management framework. I am planning to publish a new book. This development will also lead to the development of a series of master classes and a coaching package.

What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far?  Why has it been so important to you?

I got the best advice during my Ph.D. studies:

  1. The most difficult task is to start writing your Ph.D. paper.  For that, you need to sit at the table and start doing something.
  2. The second most difficult task is to finalize it. So, at some point in time you have to say “enough is enough.”

I apply these rules all my life.

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

I am a happy mother of a great daughter. She helps me a lot with my data management endeavors.

The best way for me to relax, is swimming for hours in a sea.

I like communicating with people. It provides a lot of energy in both directions.

If you have any questions about this interview, or if we can be of any service, please do not hesitate to contact us

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