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Talent Spotlight Series: Senior Director of Data Governance

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

The Talent Spotlight Series is designed to put YOU or someone you know in the spotlight to help increase awareness about the various career opportunities available. If you are interested in being featured in the Talent Spotlight Series, please fill out this form.

Today we are talking with Tiankai Feng about his role as a Senior Director of Data Governance at adidas.

Tiankai and I are former colleagues, and I am so excited he agreed to participate in the Talent Spotlight Series! You all are in for quite a treat!

Tiankai and I met through a Game Plan A: Creators Inspiring Creators article feature. Tiankai is an extremely talented musician who became LinkedIn famous for his #quarantunes (quarantine parodies of famous tunes). In his videos, Tiankai can be seen sitting at a keyboard making light of all things Zoom, conference calls, social distancing, etc. that came with this unique time in history. After his article was published, I found myself sharing his videos with family and friends. Today Tiankai has been a featured artist at multiple conferences, is a thought leader through this newsletter on LinkedIn, and even has a newly released album featuring his songs!

Want to read the original article that inspired our connection?

Tiankai was featured in Part 1 and my interior design business was featured in Part 2.

Now let's learn more about Tiankai at work...

Name: Tiankai Feng

Current Position:

Senior Director, Data Governance

Time in Current Position: 6 Months

Where Can You Connect with Tiankai?

Connect on LinkedIn!

What does a day in the life of a Senior Director of Data Governance look like?

Working in Data Governance is balancing pro-active optimizations of data structures and re-active solutions of data challenges.

A day in the life of a Senior Director in Data Governance is hard to generalize, but it includes the steering of the rest of the team in working towards the collectively defined vision of how data should work in the company, and aligning and collaboration with other teams that create, process and/or use data for their decision making.

Data Governance is also closely connected to the overall business strategy as any strategic direction needs data to as a base for fact-based progress.

What roles did you have prior to your current role?

I worked in a company called TD Reply in both the Beijing and Berlin offices with strong focus on market research, social media analytics & web analytics.

Then I had an opportunity to join adidas and spent 4 ½ years in the Digital Marketing Analytics team, at the end leading the Social, PR & Voice of Consumer Analytics Team with a special added focus on analysis of unstructured data.

How did your experience in previous roles help you succeed in your current position?

Being in Analytics before meant I understood the “user” side of data - being in data governance now finally allows me to apply my knowledge to think from a data user / customer point of view to work on solutions to data challenges and to optimize the landscape more long-term.

From a collaboration point of view, working in Analytics helped me navigate how to deal with resistance and skeptics towards data, and Data Governance is facing that even more, so I am resilient and solution-driven enough from my previous experiences.

Is there any specialty training or area of expertise needed to succeed in your current role?

Learning the basics of Data Engineering, Data Science and Data Models would be mandatory for this role - and on top of that it’s more important than ever to also train communication and conflict resolution skills.

How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?

Data will only become more important in the next 5 years, so I expect Data Governance to become increasingly important. In recent years, data roles made it also to C-Level positions called the “Chief Data Officer” - and a Data Governance background will definitely be helpful in that regard.

What is something you wish more people knew about your job?

“Data Governance” does have a little bit of a branding problem, and it all starts even with the word “Governance” - in the end it’s not about policing data flows and databases, it’s about empowering everybody to be more data-driven in the company and translating business objectives into data streams.

Don’t let the job title scare you off - it is a very exciting area that deserves more attention!

Are there any professional journals/organizations/etc. that someone interested in this field should be aware of?

The Data Governance community is a super helpful and collaborative crowd - there are communities like DataQG, CDQ and Data Leaders that enable peer to peer knowledge exchange.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume?

I am a data leader by day, but by night I am a passionate musician - I even turned the area of Data Governance into a song:

If that song does not convince you that this area is a cool place to be, I don’t know what will!


Want to learn more about Tiankai?

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. There is a direct link at the top of the blog!

If you would like to be featured on the Talent Spotlight Series, please contact me here!

I would love to share your career journey!

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