Witad Awards 2020: EDM Professional of the Year (End-User)—Donna Rudnicki, RBC Capital Markets

Women in Data and Technology

Donna Rudnicki, chief data officer (CDO) for RBC Capital Markets and winner of the enterprise data management (EDM) professional of the year (end-user) category in this year’s Women in Technology and Data Awards, credits her life-long career in technology and data to serendipity—at least a little.

After completing a degree in psychology, she entered into what she calls a one-person IT role for one of the provincial Canadian governments, which paved the way for further tech opportunities, such as teaching computer classes to general audiences at a time when computers hadn’t yet been made widely available in classrooms. Rudnicki first made the transition to heading up a data organization when she joined the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2007, prior to joining RBC. Through the years, she says, the most important quality she’s learned is resilience.

“It gets very easy to try and be something that you’re not—tougher, meaner, more aggressive. It’s just very easy not to be yourself or trying to be something else,” Rudnicki says.

A newly appointed member to the board of the Salvation Army, a wife and a mother of two boys (the older of the two also works in data, while the younger is studying for a degree in commerce), Rudnicki is also a director and active member of the EDM Council, a global, non-profit dedicated to advancing data management best practices, standards, training and research with more than 200 member firms and more than 10,000 members. In 2019, she helped launch the Canadian Chapter of the EDM Council’s Women in Data (WID) group, where she has recruited several female Canadian CDOs to the WID Global Advisory Board.

“Slightly different from technology, if you look at the data space, I would say there are more women—but [they] have historically worked more in data operations roles,” Rudnicki says. “And I think it’s important to be encouraging the same women who thought of themselves as maybe data analysts to push into data science roles, and to feel like they can move into the more technical side of data.”


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