In this Our People series, we talk to our experts about who they are and what they’re centered on in the business world. In this installment, we sit down with Carlos Cruz, our Data & Analytics Practice Lead for Centric Chicago.
What’s your story?
After graduate school, I spent about seven years at Andersen Consulting (Accenture) in Chicago. It was there at the Retail Center of Excellence that I learned the magic of data.
I worked at a number of consulting start-ups after that. All money makers, some more than others. Some much more stressful than others. I then went to the world of small to medium sized consulting and found a home at Centric.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received?
Two things stand out:
Years ago, as a new leader, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work my team and I needed to accomplish. My boss at the time impressed upon me I needed to create leverage around me. Meaning, spend as much time teaching and coaching as “doing.” It’s slower at first, but faster later. My success comes from their success.
The second piece of advice I take to heart is to be kind and genuine to everyone no matter who they are or what their title. You never know what they might be going through.
Why did you decide to become part of our Data and Analytics practice?
To me, data is fun. It can create lots of “wow” moments. It can illuminate issues and opportunities that can often get lost in the shuffle. It helps you understand and help people and companies.
Trusted information makes life easier. Think about it in your own life – when you want to make a significant purchase, plan a trip or choose a restaurant, having information that you can trust makes these decisions easier.
How are you guiding clients right now?
The field of Data, Information and Insights — informed activity is exploding right now. Most clients have some capability, but many don’t know what to do next or where to focus their time, energy and budget.
Should we invest in machine learning, artificial intelligence, data warehousing, governance? — Why? What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)? It’s not about selling them something, but about partnering with my client to figure out what they need and helping them get there.
What, in your opinion, do companies need the most help with right now?
Driving business value through information. Everybody says they want more data but often struggle equating more data to things like improved performance, increased revenue or reduced risk. The business case for data seems self-evident until it comes time to make the investment.
What do you think that companies should be thinking about next?
Don’t think about data! First, think about what you want to know and why. What do I need to know about my company, my people, my clients, my customers or external factors that impact them? Then we can figure out how to best get that information to you when and where you need it.
What are you looking forward to in your industry?
Using data to drive more diversity, equity and inclusion. Data has the power to increase the divide between the haves and have nots. But it also has the power to help close that gap and help everyone.
What do you do when you’re not guiding clients?
Spending time with family and friends. One of the things I love about Centric is so many of them, my coworkers, are included in that group. Spending time with my Centric family is not something I have to do, but something I look forward to.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago?
Exploring all that the city and area has to offer – theater, sporting events, festivals, restaurants, museums, you name it. And, I love introducing people to new things that I think they’d like.