MENTOR SPOTLIGHT: LAUREN MAFFEO
Tell us about your venture/work.
This past winter, I published my first book, Designing Data Governance from the Ground Up, with The Pragmatic Programmers. This book is a 100-page, six-step guide to help readers build their first data governance programs from scratch. My years as a business analyst at Gartner and designer of data-specific systems have shown me that data governance is not a technical problem to solve: It’s a design decision that you embed throughout your company culture.
How did you decide to tackle this particular issue?
I chose to write this book after working with clients in large-scale organizations that disseminate data on a regular basis. I quickly saw that despite producing and ingesting large amounts of data, they had no systems to manage this data in any meaningful way. Some didn’t have any processes automated at all. This made me realize that without quality standards for data that colleagues can co-create, organizations can’t do fun, meaningful work with big data.
What do you enjoy most about being an impact entrepreneur? What’s hardest about it?
I love hearing from data practitioners who tell me that my book helped them solve a problem they were stuck on, or consider some of their professional challenges in a new light. I wrote this book for peers in today’s data space, which holds a lot of promise but can feel like the Wild West. This is new territory for all of us, regardless of our roles. So, when I hear from my peers that this book positively influenced their careers, I feel so much satisfaction. I think that’s why we work as founders to begin with: We want to see the tangible impact that our work has on others.
How do you navigate the space of being a founder and also being a POC/women/non-binary person?
I sometimes feel self-conscious about being a woman in the data space who is relatively young with a liberal arts background. I’ve had clients send their assistants to take meetings with me, and I once had a colleague completely ignore me in a three-person discussion about how to solve a problem at work. I’m a big believer in creating opportunities for yourself so that when people treat you like this, you have the power to walk away. Life is too short to be disrespected, no matter how awesome the opportunity is.
What advice do you have for early-stage impact entrepreneurs about using their time, relationships, and opportunities at The New School to prepare for this kind of career?
Look for volunteer opportunities that showcase your creative talents. This could include doing pro bono design work for nonprofits, joining a creative competition’s jury, hosting gallery walk-throughs for New School students at an NYC museum, and much more. It’s essential for founders to create connections in their sectors of choice. I’m a big believer that skills-based volunteering is the ideal way to do this. And as students in NYC, your opportunities are truly limitless.
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