11 Data Leaders Worth Following in 2023
My goal here is to either make people think or laugh, ideally both. But sometimes the best way to do that is by pointing to other people. Here are 11 data leaders that I’ve enjoyed learning from the past year that you might not be following, along with one post or video of theirs that I think you’d like (in no particular order).
1. Mary Maccarthy - 🎥 “Tech Bros talk Data Scams”
Mary McCarthy is the VP of Marketing at Kubit and co-host of the Tech Bros Show with Lauren Balik. I admire Mary’s inclusive and critical approach to talking about data, both as a technology and as a center point of a community.
Get more from Mary on her LinkedIn newsletter.
2. Lucas Smith - 📝 “Carry Your Colors Across Visuals”
Lucas Smith leads an Analytics team at Hudl after having spent his entire career in data at other places such as the Union Pacific Railroad. I admire Lucas’ ability to bridge multiple worlds from business intelligence to data engineering to product analytics. He’s also a homemade pizza aficionado!
3. Aaron Wilkerson - 📝 ”the problems that our companies are facing are not unique to our company.”
Aaron Wilkerson currently leads the Data Strategy & Governance team at Carhartt. I’ve only started following Aaron recently, which is a shame as a fellow Michigander, but I appreciate the breadth and depth of Aaron’s post across a wide variety of topics in data.
4. Joe Naso - 📝 “You’re better off not starting in a data role if you really want to make an impact.”
Joe Naso founded Purview Labs after previously leading several data teams from at companies such as Postscript and Block Renovation. I appreciate Joe’s quest to cut through the BS of Data Jargon, as well as his honest reflections on careers in data.
Joe's Substack: https://datajargon.substack.com/
5. Veronica Durgin - 🎥 “Thoughtful Data Modeling and Architecture”
6. Tiankai Feng - 🎶 𝚰𝐅 𝐃𝚰𝐒𝐍𝐄𝐘 𝐒𝐎𝐍𝐆𝐒 𝐖𝐄𝐑𝐄 𝐀𝐁𝐎𝐔𝐓 𝐃𝐀𝐓𝐀 🎶
Tiankai Feng is Head of Product Data Governance at Adidas, along with being a musician in his free time.
7. Oceane Velon - 📝 “Do I really need to think about data right now?”
Oceane Velon is an analytics engineer at Dacas after having worked at other organizations such as Mercedes-Benz and BNP Paribas bank. I’ve only started following Oceana recently. But in the past few weeks, I’ve appreciated all of Oceane’s practical, clear-minded views towards analytics, especially at startups!
8. Phil Ballentine - 📝 "It’s better for you to be wrong than for the data to be wrong."
Phil Ballentine is Sr. Director of Data Engineering at Atropos Health after having been in various data roles across healthcare. Phil and I know each other in real life, and he’s always been one of the most intensely curious people, a straight-shooter, no BS.
9. Carlos Fuentes - 📝 “It's becoming clear that our knowledge can be harnessed to guide Large Language Models (LLMs) effectively.”
Carlos leads a data tech team at ioet after having been in data engineering roles at companies such as Stacklet and Globant. I appreciate Carlos’ bold predictions and clear thinking about our industry.
10. Andrew Jones - 📝 “What do software engineers think about data contracts? 🤔”
Andrew Jones has been at GoCardless for 6+ years building and leading data engineering teams. We met at a data quality meetup in London last year, when he gave the first demo that I (and most of the room) have seen of data contracts in practice.
11. Arynn Martin-Post - 📝 “Trying to do BI before you really understand your data is like saying your preferred order for making cereal is 'cereal, milk, then bowl'”
Arynn has been at data companies, such as Thoughtspot, working directly with customers as they established their BI strategies, and now is a Data Advocate at Shipyard. Arynn and I met at Coalesce 2022, and I appreciate how she always keeps it real from both personal and practical perspectives. She’s not one to buy into the hype.
There were many data leaders on LinkedIn I wanted to mention, and even more on Twitter. So if I missed you or anyone you enjoy following, sorry about that, and please let me know! But I think the 11 above are worth your attention to start. I've gotten so much out of following them, and I think you will, too.