Chief Technical Evangelist at Snowflake, Data Vault Master, Author, Speaker, Mentor, #TheDataWarrior
Kent is an internationally recognized industry expert in Cloud and Agile Data Warehousing, as well as an award-winning author and speaker in the areas of data modeling, data warehousing, and data architecture. He is a certified Data Vault Master, Data Vault 2.0 Practitioner (CDVP2), Knight of the Oaktable Network, and Oracle ACE Director (Alumni) with over 35 years of experience, including more than two decades designing data warehousing and analytic solutions (in multiple industries). He has developed and led many successful software and data warehouse implementation teams, including multiple agile DW/BI teams.
Kent has written dozens of articles and given hundreds of presentations (both nationally and internationally) and co-authored multiple books related to data modeling including The Data Model Resource Book (with Bill Inmon and Len Silverston). He is also the co-author (with Dan Linstedt) of The Business of Data Vault Modeling. Kent was the co-editor of Dan’s book Super Charge Your Data Warehouse, the first technical book about Data Vault Modeling. In addition, he is now the author of four Kindle format data warehouse and data modeling related books, available on Amazon.com.
What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?
I learned to program (BASIC on CP/M) my senior year of high school along with my math teacher. I really had no intentions of making it a career but found it useful for speeding up some of my homework! Then in college, I got a job as a lab assistant that eventually led me to writing programs to help the grad students get all their calculations done more quickly and accurately than doing them by hand. So that showed me how useful computers could be (even pre-IBM PC). That led to other jobs and eventually to databases. Being able to organize and manipulate all that data easily was fascinating. Once I got introduced to data warehousing, analytics and BI, I was definitely hooked. There was no going back.
What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?
Discovering I apparently had a talent for presenting technical concepts and ideas in a practical way both in writing and on stage. That meant I would not need to spend the rest of my career in a cube coding. Talking to people was much more fun.
What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?
The rapid pace of technological change challenges us all to keep pace. With that the lack of critical thinking in many organizations around these changes and how to adapt to them. We need to work harder on the education part of the equation, so people understand how to learn and question assumptions and old ways of doing things. Not every innovation needs to be adopted in every company. We need to learn to focus on using technology appropriately to solve real problems.
How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?
It is so hard to imagine where we will be in 3 years! I know we will continue to be inundated by data from all corners (and devices). I expect to see the data science discipline develop more in the AI/ML space with more and more automation resulting from the output of ML models. Hopefully, this will streamline how we manage and process data so that the humans can focus on making the decisions that really matter to their organizations, customers, and the world around them. Data democratization will be achieved by many organizations.
Do you have any planned next steps for your career?
Probably retirement or semi-retirement 😉
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?
Make a decision! Gather the facts, yes; get opinions from trusted advisors, yes; but don’t deliberate too long, you can always adjust after. Basically, fail fast (but this was long before agile). That taught me that being wrong occasionally was not the end of the world and that some progress sooner is better than none.
Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?
I loved acting in plays and musicals all through school. The coaching I got there directly affected my ability (and willingness) to speak to audiences of all sizes without stage fright! I am also an 8th Degree Black Belt and Grandmaster of traditional Tae Kwon Do (and I still teach at the local YMCA)
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