Andrea Pezzetta currently serves as Chief Data Officer for Ipsen, leading data strategy, analytics strategy, and data governance. She is a global visionary delivering innovative, strategic data, analytics, and tech-driven solutions across healthcare and pharma. Her career has focused on bringing the right capabilities to business users for the nearest, real-time insight generation possible. Andrea has extensive healthcare and pharma industry data knowledge, from drug discovery to commercialization and product utilization. Andrea holds an M.S. in Information Science from Pennsylvania State University, an M.P.A. from Rutgers University, and a B.A. from Ball State University.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Andrea shared her insights on the impact of AI on data science, her career trajectory, key qualities required to become a successful leader, significant career milestones, future plans, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
*The author writes this article in a personal capacity, with no relation to her current employer.*
Do you think that data science is perceived to be more important than ever before? And what has been the impact of AI on data science?
I do think that data science is perceived to be more important than ever before because of the buzz around AI. One of the biggest impacts of AI on data science is AI potentially helping to streamline the cleaning of datasets, recognizing anomalies faster than traditional data quality management processes. Clean (and high quality) data is a must for AI as well as analytics, and if AI can be leveraged to do the heavy lifting, there is tremendous value for data scientists and AI outputs.
Andrea, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?
I fell in love with data very early on in my career while working for a large payor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the first few years of my career, my interests were streamlining processes and cleaning data to feed into data warehouses for analytics and reporting. Following that, I moved into analytics and reporting in the healthcare and Commercial pharma space. During that phase and at that time, I was very passionate about having analysis ready data and trusted data because back then, most of us spent so much time validating and then cleaning data, less time was spent on gleaning insights. I moved into more strategic roles focused on data strategy, first on the Commercial side of pharma and then to R&D. Both roles focused respectively on identifying fit-for-purpose datasets for Commercial and research purposes.
I ’ve been very fortunate to work for some amazing companies as well as incredible teams and people to evolve healthcare and pharma. The one area of interest that has been with me throughout my career is real-world data. I am a true believer that real-world data has and will continue to make a difference in evolving precision medicine for patient care.
Brief us about your roles and responsibilities as Chief Data Officer at Ipsen.
I am responsible for the company’s data strategy, analytics strategy, and data governance.
What’s the top challenge you’ve found in data transformation?
The top challenge I’ve found is change management. Change is difficult to manage particularly during the beginning of a data transformation journey. With a lot of preparation, communication, and commitment to providing people with the tools to lead change, you can get ahead of the challenge. When people realize we are all on the same journey for the better of the company and they relate to the transformation vision, you are heading in the right direction for success.
What are your thoughts on diversity and inclusion? How important is it to have authentic conversations with leaders, professionals, and changemakers to create more acceptance across the globe?
Diversity and inclusion are extremely important in every company. Bringing diverse people together brings broader perspectives to the table, which can help a company in many ways including their competitive advantage. I see a very different world today, and a much better one than I did when I started my career in data and analytics. For example, there are many more women in the tech, data and analytics space than 25 years ago which is awesome.
I am a big believer in authenticity and authentic conversations between leaders, professionals and changemakers. It takes all of us to lead change and drive acceptance across the globe.
In your opinion, what qualities constitute a good leader?
In my opinion, integrity, respect, authenticity, humility, and good listening skills constitute a good leader.
What is the top data issue that kept you awake at night as a CDO?
The top data issues I think every CDO or CDAO faces at some point is change management. Change management is one of the most important ingredients in a CDOs remit.
What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
Being part of a team that successfully transformed a global pharma company from a siloed approach to data and analytics to a more holistic approach. We rolled out an analytics infrastructure across seventeen markets resulting in a single version of truth for datasets across the organization.
What are your passions outside of work?
My passions outside of work include deep sea fishing, snow skiing, hiking, cooking, and spending quality time with friends and family.
What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
My biggest goal is to drive data transformations via generating analytics ready data, providing self-service access to the right teams, and providing companies with trusted data that the business can depend on for insight generation. With the ever-increasing amount of data today, it’s important to ensure data foundations are built to empower analysts, data scientists and business users with the full continuum of analytics. In five years, I will most likely be focused on the same mission but with a lot more data.
What advice would you give to new CDOs?
Build relationships to ensure you have the support you need from the top down in your company for data initiatives. Foster relationships with other CDOs and participate in CDO communities so you have a network to collaborate with, share learnings, sort through challenges, and brainstorm new ideas. Ensure data literacy always accompanies any data and analytics transformation.