#59: New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute CDAO, Jan Sheppard on Treating Data as a Treasure

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Treating data as a treasure is a foundational principle for Jan Sheppard, the Chief Data and Analytics officer at New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR.) This agency leads ongoing research in public health, environmental health, and forensics for the country of New Zealand. Like many other CDAOs, her role is relatively new. But the unique values she applies to data can be traced back many hundreds of years to the indigenous Maori people of her country. Through her work, Jan recognizes the profound impact data can have on people and their environments for generations to come. Learn more about the important climate and health policy challenges that ESR is working to solve with data in this episode, plus her take on data literacy vs. business savviness, and why her data strategy is just two pages long. 

Tune in to learn:

  • How do you make vastly different data work together at ESR? (07:12)
  • Data’s role as a treasure (11:43)
  • How do government and private companies look at data differently (13:50)
  • How do you guard against the misuse of data? (18:39)
  • Dangers of misinterpreting the models and the need for data-savvy (21:16)
  • Jan’s data North Star – recognizing the value of the data (25:10)
  • Goal to create digital twins to help address climate change (30:13)
  • Working around the difficulty of unstandardized ESG reporting (34:05)
  • Maori values and data at ESR – the life force of data (40:35)




About Jan

Jan Sheppard is the Chief Data & Analytics Officer at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research where she is responsible for leading the data practice including data science and computational science. Her work includes building new worlds through data to gain insights into how changes in the environment impact on human health, which is critical to understand as we face the reality of climate change.  

 Jan is a pioneer in pushing boundaries of how data can create value beyond what is imaginable. Jan has built a start up in the middle of an established organisation to create the culture and way of working around data needed to take the organisation forward into the future. And is always building out an ecosystem through data that goes beyond the organisation she works for to enable informed system level thinking.

 Jan was acknowledged as one of the top 100 innovators in data and analytics in the world in 2020, and has enjoyed many opportunities to share her vision for data and achievements internationally.   

Get even more insights from data and analytics leaders like Jan on The Data Chief. https://www.thoughtspot.com/data-chief 

Episode 62