According to a classic Harvard Business Review article, the top three reasons people leave their jobs have held steady for years:

  • They don’t like their bosses
  • They don’t see opportunities for promotion or growth
  • They’re offered a better gig, which often comes with higher pay

Are data leaders – a particularly mobile group of business professionals – any different? Data Leadership Collaborative wanted to know, so we reached out to six data leaders. Here are their honest, unvarnished perspectives. 

Data Leader 1: Hard work, zero impact
“Basically, it came down to growth and a belief that what I was doing at the end was having zero impact for the company. I certainly wasn’t learning. When my current opportunity came along it was the opposite. It promised more control, more learning, and more growth all around – though in a company that is much scrappier and faster-paced.

“I guess the follow-on question is, what might make me leave this job? Probably resource challenges, workload, and impact on quality of life. Although the official hours are a good fit for my schedule, I’ve been working a lot of weekends to stay on top of high demand. I guess the jury is still out.”

Data Leader 2: I’m more than “an emitter of information”
“I’ve left data jobs in the past for a few reasons, but it largely comes down to leadership not giving the data team the right level of ownership of problem domains. I think there is sometimes a feeling that data teams should just provide some guidance and not get involved in what happens next. I feel it’s more important for them to have greater responsibility for how that guidance is implemented and the decisions that follow.

“If a data team is just an ‘emitter of information’ it’s very hard to have real impact on a business. A data team, in my mind, should be the best form of strategy team and function as such.”

Data Leader 3: That change we wanted? Too risky.
“Sometimes data leaders leave because there is no path forward. You built the product or service you are supposed to build – the product that the organization supposedly wanted – but then business priorities change. And then the vision of data transformation is replaced by leaders saying, “We’ve always done it this way, and perhaps this change is just too risky.” At that point, the data leader is left with a choice: continue pushing a boulder uphill, or try their hand at another organization that appears committed to the type of change that they thought they could execute at this one.”

Data Leader 4: I am not a data deli counter
I got tired of feeling like I worked at the data deli counter. Being viewed as an analytics machine meant being tasked to use data to build around a hypothesis rather than being asked to analyze data to derive trends. In addition, the turnaround times for delivering this “analysis” became tighter and tighter. The job stopped being innovative. As data became fuel across organizations, data teams were relegated to the back seat versus being in the driver’s seat. At the very least, we should have been riding shotgun.”

Data Leader 5: Active blockers
If you find people are blockers and you don’t feel like you have executive support and you feel like there are people who are actively blocking you, then sometimes you just need to move on and stop beating your head against the wall. It’s not the right place, or it’s not the right time.”

Data Leader 6: You want me to work where?
“The company restructured, I wasn’t happy with where I landed, so I quit!”