Five Questions With: Vinay Jha

Vinay Jha is executive vice president and chief data officer for Citizens Bank. Prior to joining Citizens, Jha served as senior vice president and chief data officer for Fifth Third Bank and held several roles with GE Capital, the financial-services division of General Electric, including managing director, enterprise data management, for GE Capital North America.

Jha spoke to PBN about his role at Citizens and how the bank is utilizing data analytics to enhance the customer experience.

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PBN: What does your role as chief data officer entail?

JHA: I joined Citizens Bank in late July 2018 as chief data officer, or CDO. The role of CDO includes creating and executing a comprehensive enterprise data strategy for the bank. As part of the role, I am also responsible for data governance, customer data management, business intelligence and providing data solutions to our business partners.

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My team is also leading advanced analytics for the bank along with maintaining data and analytics platforms and tools. The core of our data strategy is to enhance the customer experience, create efficiency and reduce risk by leveraging data as a strategic enterprise asset.

PBN: What is your background in data science and analytics?

JHA: This is my third role as head of the data organization in my career. Most recently, I was chief data officer at another regional bank, and before that I was enterprise data leader for a line of business at GE Capital. I have a range of experiences in data management from these three roles, and I have led many data science and analytics initiatives for our businesses. I have also worked in multiple roles in businesses and finance where analytics capabilities were used on a daily basis.

PBN: What are some examples of how Citizens Bank is using data analytics to change its internal and client-facing processes?

JHA: Citizens Bank is working on many data analytics use cases, including one to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the underwriting and portfolio management process. The bank is also leveraging its data analytics to enhance the customer experience, and also make more personalized offerings to our customers.

PBN: How is Citizens Bank preparing employees for working with data analytics?

JHA: Citizens Bank is investing in data and analytics tools, moving to cloud infrastructure and training our colleagues to leverage new tools. We are providing in-house trainings, either run by our own experienced colleagues or by our partners. We have created a community of practices where colleagues from any part of the bank can join and learn about our data and analytics capabilities.

PBN: What is the biggest misconception you have heard about data analytics?

JHA: There are many, but here are two that are quite common. The first is the idea that you need to have a Ph.D. in statistics to be a data scientist. This is far from true. Does it help to understand and perform some advanced tasks for machine learning? Yes, it does, but that does not mean that people who do not have those degrees are not able to become data scientists.

The second misconception is that data science and business intelligence are the same thing. Learning about some domains or events is business intelligence, but whether that event will happen again or an understanding of why something happened is data science. Data science includes descriptive and statistical analysis.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for PBN. Contact her at