Data steward Deirdre Linnane is wearing red glasses and looking into the camera.
Deirdre Linnane. Image: Dun & Bradstreet

What does a data steward do on a typical day?

12 Oct 2020

Deirdre Linnane, a financial data steward at analytics company Dun & Bradstreet, explains how her work varies between data processing and client interactions.

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When we think about jobs in data, we don’t typically picture them as client-facing. But for Deirdre Linnane, direct and indirect contact with customers are important parts of her day-to-day.

Linnane is a financial data steward at Dun & Bradstreet. Along with reviewing large volumes of data and running quality checks, she must draw on her communication skills to explain outcomes to end users.

Here, she describes how a day in her job usually plays out and which skills are most important to her work.

‘Our clients will probably not have any understanding of the internal jargon we use, so clarity of communication is key’

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

My role entails ensuring data from public sources such as Companies House is acquired, processed and entered into the Dun & Bradstreet data supply in an accurate and timely manner.

While my day-to-day work can vary widely, usually I will spend a portion of the day monitoring volumes of data, running quality checks and responding to customer queries.

What types of project do you work on?

Our team is focused on ensuring we deliver high-quality financial data for our clients to support their business requirements. Projects I have been involved in include implementing automation to increase efficiency of the data capture process, identifying new ways to expand our sources for data capture and adding new data elements to enrich our financial data.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

My role involves reviewing large amounts of data to look for trends and involves a high level of attention to detail and analytical skills.

I also use tools such as [Microsoft] Power BI to model data to make it accessible and usable for my team’s clients and internal stakeholders.

Continuous-improvement skills are also a vital part of the role to help deliver consistent data quality and identify ways we can enhance the information we provide to clients.

Finally, I would also say that effective communication is a key element. It is vital to understand our clients’ needs. It is also a vital skill for collaborating with multiple teams and stakeholders.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

I work with several teams as part of my day-to-day role and for project work. Some of these teams are customer-facing, some are more technical and they are spread across different geographical locations.

Maintaining regular connections and effective communication across different working groups is key, especially while we are all working from home due to Covid-19.

As a global company, Dun & Bradstreet has established communication channels to ensure that the teams in multiple locations can work closely together and collaborate virtually, but I do miss working side by side with my colleagues in the office.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

As part of my role involves a lot of project work which changes constantly, I try and keep the basic parts of my job in a routine. This means I will always know how much time I have to spare in a day to tackle any reactive or ad hoc issues.

When you first started as a data steward, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

My role involves both direct and indirect interaction with our clients. It is important when communicating with clients to ensure that you are clear and concise in all your responses. Fortunately, I came from a more customer-facing background. But you do have to remind yourself from time to time that our clients will probably not have any understanding of the internal jargon we use, so clarity of communication is key.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

When I started this role, many data-capture processes involved a lot of manual input. This has evolved over recent years as the industry has transformed and the amount of data available is increasing exponentially. Businesses (and consumers) need and expect real-time access to data. New technologies and capabilities have increased the ability to automate tasks, which frees up time to focus on high-value tasks.

What do you enjoy most about being a data steward?

I enjoy both team-based work and more individual tasks. My role allows me to maintain a good balance of both. Working at Dun & Bradstreet has allowed me to work autonomously and to develop my career while having the support of a great team.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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