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Head of Data: Career Path Prediction

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Question: “Somer, I’m a head of data. I spoke with a search firm and they said this is it. I can go to another company, but still as a head of data. They won’t consider me for their CTO or CPO roles. What’s my career path from here?”

Answer: “Do you have a hard stop?”

We spoke for a while. I had a gut feeling but wanted to back it up. I did a quick LinkedIn search to see past-not-current titles and where people are now. He was right. It was mainly data musical chairs.

Here’s where we ended up:

Think about infrastructure or IT operations 5+ years ago. Many execs asked this same question too. Now look at them; many are in the top tech role. As infrastructure became less of a commodity and more of a business differentiator, certain people were recognized. They drove the business with tech. They were viewed differently and sought after.

Most companies are realizing they’re sitting on a rich data set that they can use and/or commercialize in ways they never thought before.

Similar to infra execs, data execs will rise to the top role, only faster. And because in many cases data is or will be the business, they will be considered not only for CTO roles but also Product/GM and beyond.

See the conversation on LinkedIn.


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