#52: Prudential Financial’s CDO Kjersten Moody on Continuous Learning & Collaboration to Drive Impact with Data

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“I’ve always been personally very interested in the intersection of people, of business, and technology, which I think naturally leads one to a data career.”


What sort of person readily accepts a position that has never existed before at a company? Kjersten Moody is the first Chief Data Officer at Prudential Financial and was the initial Chief Data Analytics Officer at a prior career stop at State Farm. Tune in to learn how being a constant learner has consistently allowed her to see challenges as opportunities for growth.

Key Insights


What advantages are there in desiring to learn all life long? (04:08)

“My family has always been very important and very influential [and] in particular, my father. He was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. And he went on to get a PhD from the University of Chicago in theoretical population genetics. So he was a professional mathematician. He was a professor, and… really from birth onwards, he instilled a sense of curiosity, which inevitably led to being a lifelong learner and – in many ways – challenger [and] believing that there are really no practical limits to the types of questions that could be asked or the opportunities that I could seek.”

Perhaps it is accurate to suggest that a “lifelong learner” is likely to become interested in challenges and overcoming them rather than being discouraged upon encountering them. It’s clear to see this characteristic has led to Kjersten’s success and is one for all of us to emulate.

What can be gained from an opportunity to work internationally? (15:43) 

“… People ask me the question, ‘should I think about an international work experience for myself and for my family?’ And without any hesitation, my answer is always ‘yes.’ It is not easy. If you do it right, you will be challenged with preconceived notions that you have.”

Kjersten suggests she learned a great deal about the nuances of language and nonverbal communication in different cultures due to her international work experience. Someone else may have found cultural differences confusing and shied away from international work. Kjersten leans into these sorts of challenging experiences. We can all benefit from such an approach, where different cultures are experienced and appreciated, “preconceived notions” are broken down, and stronger, more compassionate character takes their place.

How does a cooperative culture help digital transformation? (36:18))

… The cultural reflex is collaboration and partnership. And so when there are legitimate, very serious questions that need to be worked through, the culture supports that and there’s a consistency to how the different roles and the different seats at the table in that conversation are approaching that same conversation together.”

Change can be difficult at any institution. When an organization has an established culture that readily allows for change, however, these transformations can be much more achievable. Kjersten clearly describes how the cooperative culture at Prudential has set up the company to change and work together through any challenges that may arise.

How can data be used to drive change at a business? (49:33)

We’re very careful to make sure that we’re part of the business change program because that business change program is really bringing together all the components needed to deliver that business impact from data science, software engineering, risk compliance, [and] the HR dimension to it as well for kind of the people engaged in old processes and how they start to engage in new processes.”

Data must be part of a comprehensive, unified strategy, where all relevant parties understand this data as a baseline to drive change. To help a company evolve, all stakeholders need to be at the table and work toward a singular purpose.



About Kjersten:
Kjersten Moody is the Chief Data Officer of Prudential Financial.  Her mission is to deliver leading data and analytics capabilities that will inform business strategy and contribute meaningfully to Prudential’s business results.

Kjersten has over twenty years of experience working with business teams and leaders to effectively use technology, data, and analytics to improve or transform businesses. As a member of Prudential’s Global Technology Senior Leadership Team, she is responsible for Prudential’s enterprise data and analytics function.  This includes the enterprise data strategy, data management, and governance, data and modeling platforms, master data management, automation, BI, and data science.

Kjersten holds a BA in Economics with Honors from the University of Chicago.”

Get even more insights from data and analytics leaders like Kjersten on The Data Chief.  


Episode 55