Interview with DAMA’s Chris Bradley

You have such a long career with Data Management.
How did you end up for this kind of career?

It most definitely happened by chance.  Bizzarely I even got into Information Management originally by chance.  After studying for a PhD in Chemical Engineering at University world events killed off my Chem Eng job before I’d even started it (it was September 1979) & rather than wait another year I went into “IT”. I was fortunate enough to work with leaders like Richard Barker & Tedd Codd and got an insight into what we now call information management long before it became a hot topic.  I worked on Data modelling and with Database systems way before relational came into view and those foundations gave me an insight into why getting the core things right is so vital.  It amuses me today about many of the “new” things some people talk about which actually have been around for many many years. 

What have been the highlights of your career?

Highlights over my 40 years in Information Management are many and varied.  Writing some books, developing a Data Strategy for a massive Defence Organisation, rolling out Data Governance in several Oil  companies, mentoring very senior military & government officers in Data Governance and sharing my experience by teaching university and business students across 20+ countries.

Regarding DAMA:

What is it?

DAMA International is a not-for-profit, vendor-independent, global association of technical and business professionals dedicated to advancing the concepts and practices of information and data management.  The vision & purpose of DAMA International is to be an essential resource to those who engage in information and data management.  DAMA International’s primary purpose is to promote the understanding, development and practice of managing data and information as key enterprise assets to support the organization.

The Organization Goals of DAMA-International are to:

  • Help practitioners become more knowledgeable and skilled in the information and data management profession.
  • Influence practices, education and certification in the information and data management profession.
  • Support DAMA members and their organizations to address their information and data management needs.
  • Form alliances with other organizations with similar principles  to strengthen the profession.

How are you involved with DAMA?

I have been involved with DAMA since the very start in the 1980’s.  I was also one of the early members of the British Computer Society (BCS) Data Management Specialist Group also founded in the 1980’s.  I’m a past president of DAMA UK, one of only 3 “Fellows” of DAMA,  professional certification and in 2016 was recognised with the DAMA lifetime achievement award for services to Data Management internationally.

I was one of the 5 main author / reviewers for the DMBoK and am the VP of Professional Development for DAMA-I.  As such I’ve led the activities to develop the DMBoK2 based CDMP professional certification including teaching this internationally.


What is the current situation of DAMA in the world?

DAMA International has been reinvigorated since mid-2018.  It was founded in 1980 in Los Angeles & the first International DAMA Chapter founded in UK 1982.  DAMA has been hosting an annual conference since 1989 when our first symposium was held in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  In 1996, the first Australian DAMA conference was held in Melbourne and in 2000, we held the first DAMA Europe conference in London.  In 2001, we had a record attendance of over 1,000 data management professionals from 24 countries at the annual symposium held in Anaheim, California and since then we have always had 1,000+ attendees. Today there are over 50 chapters around the World including a very active chapter based in Helsinki. 

How do you see this situation is going to change?

We have over 20 new chapters in the process of forming all over the world including Middle East, South America, Europe, Asia and USA.  Also as VP Professional Development, I have started a program of linking with Universities and National Curriculum bodies around the world so that vendor neutral Data Management education programs are created from students, thereby assuring that future Data Management professionals are taught the reality of the data world. 


DAMA certification:

What is it?

The DAMA Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) certification is an indication of knowledge, skills and experience in the Data Management field. DAMA International has constructed the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) designation. The certification program gives data management professionals the opportunity to show professional growth that can enhance their personal and career goals.  It is the only vendor neutral, international, widely accepted professional data management certification which has increasing depths (levels) of attainment and continuous improvement.  Professionals participate in continuing education to stay current with best practices and to further develop specialised skills. Most data management training is generally focused on developing skills with specific technology products. The focus on technical training can mask the fact that Data Management is a business function.  CDMP covers all of the Data Management disciplines in the DMBoK with specialist examination in the individual disciplines.


Why someone should be interested about it?

Benefits of CDMP for individuals include:   

  • Membership of DAMA-International and access to member only discounts and resources;
  • Professional Development Milestones progressing from Associate to Practitioner to Master and possibly even Fellow.
  • Continuous Professional Growth
  • Internationally Recognized Measurement of Accomplishment
  • Greater credibility and recognition in the marketplace
  • Certification in Data Management is increasingly being seen as a requirement in some areas with many major multi-national organisations mandating it.


What are the benefits for companies if their employees have been trained with it?

Benefits of CDMP for organisations include:   

  • A benchmark for assessing Data Management practices within the enterprise
  • Increased trust in your Data Management team
  • Employee development
  • Demonstration of commitment to quality standards
  • Raise awareness of the importance of Data Management disciplines to the organization

How many people have done the certification in the world?

The prior CDMP certification had 8000 holders.  The all-new robust DMBoK2 based CDMP program was released in February 2019.  Since then there have been over 1000 exams taken in 48 countries (including Finland) with 939 new CDMP holders including 51 at Practitioner & Master level.


When your next training will be in Finland?

The next CDMP certification class in Finland is on 15th of March 2022.  Watch out for further CDMP classes in Helsinki through 2022 and for the Data Governance class which helps guide you through the specialist discipline.

What will be 3 key benefits you get from the course?

The 3 key benefits of attending the Data Management Fundamentals CDMP preparation class are:   

  • Obtain an overview of ALL of the Data Management disciplines in the DMBoKV2
  • Discover practical applications, hints and techniques for applying the data management approaches;
  • Practice CDMP examinations and obtain coaching on examination approaches prior to taking the live CDMP examination.  If successful, you can leave this course with an internationally recognised professional certification.

Special questions:


What hints would you give to companies trying to become Data Driven?

The current Enterprise Information System pattern is centred on applications, with data as second-class citizens.  This is at the heart of most of the problems with current Enterprise Systems.  The main barrier to changing this paradigm is not technical but is mental and inertial.  There is a huge amount of money to be made by vendors in building, implementing and integrating applications in organizations & it is this which keeps the application-centric paradigm alive.  However, there is even more money to be saved in the enterprises that produce and consume information, by moving to a data-centric approach.  It takes concerted effort to change deep-rooted habits, even when there are large financial incentives to do so.  Organisations should commit to begin the process that will lead to data-centric architecture in the firms they work with.  Data-centric is a major departure from the current application-centric approach to systems development and management. Migration to the data-centric approach will not happen by itself. It needs champions.  It needs Data leaders.  It needs advisors with significant experience.

How would you advise young people who would like to become data professionals?

Learn Data Modelling .. don’t believe the vendor nonsense that Data Modelling is dead.  Take the CDMP Data Management fundamental syllabus and exam.  Then decide which path or discipline you wish to pursue.


How do you see the data management industry nowadays?

Too much focus on technical solution and “magic silver bullets”.  The business of data management, organisation management, methods, skills and competencies are overlooked by the lure of yet another magic solution.  Just look at big data & data lakes.  Over 40 years I’ve seen much that is new and useful, but much more that is fools gold and even more that are good ideas from years ago being re-cycled. 

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana (1863 1952)


How do you think the industry will evolve in the near future?

Massive fines from data breaches & legislative fails will grow.  Data Governance will become mainstream.  Data as a Service (DaaS) will finally take off.  The Data Centric approach will gain traction.  Belief in magic solutions will continue if people fail to learn from the past.

What question you would like to answer in this kind of interview?

Is the CDMP really worthwhile?

And the answer to your own question is?

Most definitely yes.  Major organisations are including the DMBoK2 data management fundamentals training in the curricula and mandating CDMP as a qualification.  You should also look for Data Management consultants, coaches, strategy advisors who have attained the higher levels of certification.  If they have not, ask yourself why.

Check out the Data Management Fundamentals and DAMA Certification Preparation course details here.

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