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Career Chat: On Stepping into a Leadership Role with Executive Harald Schneider

Harald Schneider 2 (1)

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“Being more of a technical person when I grew up, I probably rested a little bit too much on my technical skills for too long,” says Harald as he reflects on his journey from working as an individual contributor to transitioning into managing teams. 

Harald Schneider now holds an executive position as Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Equifax.

We sat down and had a candid conversation around whether Harald ever thought he would end up in his current role and some lessons he learned along the way.

What areas would he focus on more if he could go back in time and tell his younger self what he knows now? Be sure to tune into the conversation here!

What motivates and energizes you?

I’m really motivated and energized by learning. I’m excited to get up every morning to learn new things, and solve new problems. I also really enjoy working with people and developing them; seeing folks learn, grow, and do things that they never thought they’d be able to do.

Is there a project (transformation or innovation) you were really excited to be a part of? 

This is a very, very hard question because there are so many exciting and innovative projects that we've been working on. I'd probably pick the Consumer OneScore as an example. This is a new model that we developed last year, a new credit score, and there are a few things that are very exciting about it: 

  1. From a data science perspective, we used some really interesting machine learning approaches that we hadn't used before.
  2. We brought, for the first time, a lot of data together and one credit score that we hadn't used in combination before. We used our traditional credit bureau data. We also used utility data (for example, electricity payments and phone bills). And we also brought in alternative credit data.  
  3. Lastly, which is really the most important one, is that it'll have a big impact on our customers and consumers. 

By using these better machine learning approaches and the data that we had combined before, we're now able to approve 20% more consumers that are applying for credit. And in addition, all those consumers that now get approved through this score, 15% will be seeing better offers.  

I think that's really inspiring because through our data and through data science, we are having an impact on giving more consumers access to credit and making sure that they qualify for better offers.

What can career growth look like at Equifax?

I think the great thing at Equifax is that there are different career trajectories. Yes, there's the career trajectory of growing and moving from an individual contributor to being a people manager and, from there, potentially managing larger and larger teams. But one of the great things that differentiates us is that we have a very specific track for technical experts.

We realized that whether it's in data and analytics, or in technology, or in security, that we need very specific experts in technical fields. And so, we have a specific career path for folks that want to stay individual contributors, but continue to grow, both in terms of the impact that they are having as well as when it comes to their level in their organization and their compensation. 

What does training look like for new hires?

Equifax requires you to learn some of the specifics of the business. I've been in financial services for more than 25 years, but we are a specialized company utilizing specialized systems and tools.

We have a specific onboarding process for associates on our D&A team. We take them through  a training program that covers our core data assets, our data fabric, their cloud components and an overview of how we work with statistical models and machine learning. 

This is all done through our Data and Analytics University, which is a part of our internal training program. We offer classes at least twice a week, and each year we have more than 10,000 team members that attend a Data and Analytics University session. 

Fun fact! After asking Harald a silly icebreaker question, we discovered that pineapple pizza used to be his favorite growing up. 

Hear more stories and learn about available opportunities at Equifax.