Paul Lodge, Chief Data Officer

Man looking to camera and smiling.

I’ve been appointed as Chief Data Officer for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) since March 2017. Without a doubt, data and analytics are crucial to DWP’s ability to understand the issues that the UK is currently facing, to make sure that we deliver an appropriate and effective response. The work we do helps the most vulnerable in our society and actively contributes towards rebuilding the labour market.

We’ve been working on new data reference architecture, using the principles of data mesh, to support the re-architecting of DWP, from various segregated lines of business onto a single logical application reference architecture. This will support improved analytics, segmentation and service delivery personalisation, as well as enhanced fraud and error detection.

Rapid response to COVID-19

During the first lockdown, there was a temporary reduction in DWP capacity as many colleagues were shielding, self-isolating or didn’t yet have the equipment to work from home. This meant we needed to develop new people and workplace analytics overnight in order to understand what was happening to the demand on DWP services and the supply. We had to scale prototype cloud analytics workspaces and bring legacy data we had never previously used into modern, virtualised environments. This push has enabled us to get to the most accurate and dynamic productivity analytics that we’ve ever had.

This year has really demonstrated the power that small teams of data and analytics professionals can have in delivering urgent and, in some cases, lifesaving support to our fellow citizens.

A real sense of purpose

My proudest achievement continues to be my work at DWP, especially over the past year. We’ve had to work extremely hard as part of a much wider team to support people during this complex and stressful period in their lives. This gives the whole team a huge sense of purpose, knowing that the right support is delivered to the right people, at the right time.

Working with other government departments and partners, we use huge datasets to better understand the citizens that need our services. This enables us to tailor our support more appropriately to individual needs, more efficiently and effectively.

My advice about working in data

This industry is all about people, so make the time to understand the people you’re trying to help. The best use of data is when those working with it really understand the situation of the service user and their needs. This is something that I was fortunate to learn through operational analysis work in my early career, but it’s as true now as it was then. I’ve made the effort to work in jobcentres and our service centres and go out with our teams who visit claimants in their homes so that we maintain proximity to where the impact is delivered.

Secondly, don’t forget the basics. The ability to do creative things with good data relies on solid engineering, good data management and exceptional security. If you get the foundations right, then you can have a a career that will change people’s lives for the better.

Emma Presley Abbott: Deputy Director, Head of Enterprise Insight, Head of Data Practice

The Data Practice is a community of data professionals who are responsible for how DWP model, transform, manage and securely use data across DWP and wider Government. We collectively aim to deliver data driven intelligence, products and services that enhance the services we offer and improve outcomes for citizens and staff.

The Data Practice is a great place to work. We invest in people and ensure our members have access to the learning and development opportunities that keep them at the forefront of a rapidly evolving sector and we actively encourage and facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing opportunities across our Practice.

I am the Head of Practice for Data, which means I am responsible for growing the Practice Community, continuously improving learning & development and creating meaningful career opportunities for our Practice members. I hope that the Data Practice can continue to provide the same support and opportunities that I have enjoyed so far in my own DWP career.