Gillian Tomlinson

Chief Data Officer, RSA

What does your job entail?

My job entails heading up data analytics for a very large UK insurance company. I’m responsible for ensuring that there’s appropriate governance for how data is managed and we also focus on innovation.

What do you like best about your role?

I have a need to be constantly stimulated. It’s one of those jobs where every day is different and you’re constantly learning. With the rate at which the information age is booming globally you’ve got to constantly keep up and no day is the same. I find that to be tremendously attractive in terms of a role.

Where do you find your confidence?

I’ve always been an optimistic person. I’ve always been confident from an early age. Both my parents were painfully shy so they read every book about how to bring up a confident, extrovert child. A large part of my confidence has come from acknowledging that I don’t know everything and being able to work with other people and use their expertise and support. I think it’s a big part of how you feel confident in your role and you build that rapport.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

When you’re younger, you focus a lot on delivery – you’ve got to get the job done. Then you realise, especially in big organisations, that you’ve got to build relationships. You learn that you’ve really got to embrace the people side as well as the performance side of what you do.

Enjoy every moment as opposed to just focusing on the end goal.
What advice would you give your teenage self?

Slow down and enjoy the journey. You will achieve what you set out to achieve in the end. Enjoy every moment as opposed to just focusing on the end goal.

What significant object have you chosen?

The object I’ve chosen is my wedding ring. The reason is that this was my grandmother’s wedding ring – she wore it for about 47 years of her life. On her deathbed I was with her and she gave it to me. It comes from South Africa – South African diamonds and gold, so it’s my own sentimental piece. It’s not supposed to look this way. My husband decided he was going to reset it and we designed it to look similar to my engagement ring, but he messed it up! I only found out on my wedding day. I think it looks like a frog but I’ve grown to love it. That’s something I look at quite fondly – he had best intentions and it’s come out this way. So we’re always going to keep it this way.