Bits and Bytes Blog
Get to Know the Deputy CDO
Thursday, September 24, 2020
The Office of the Chief Data Officer has welcomed a few new team members in recent months! We would like to take the time to introduce you to Marcus Thornton, the new Deputy Chief Data Officer. Marcus will support the Office of the Chief Data Officer by improving operational efficiency, increasing delivery of customer centered solutions, promoting increased data sharing, and leveraging government data to maximize the value of Commonwealth data.
What is one quote or philosophy that you live your life by?
I don’t believe in giving back. I believe in giving.
Where is your favorite place to go in Virginia and why?
Definitely Virginia Beach. I enjoy being close to the ocean and love watersports. I like to go parasailing but jet skiing is my favorite.
Tell us about your background as it relates to data?
For the last 20 years I’ve lived in the world of software engineering. I've worked with application developers, software engineers, and software developers doing front and backend work to develop solutions based on client demands. It’s involved some hardcore object-oriented programming and database development. My languages of choice are .NET, C#, and SQL.
As it relates to data, in my previous role I worked for a data company that specializes in the collection of retail pricing data across all of North America. The company focuses on leveraging data to make pricing decisions along with reporting and analytics.
How would you describe your new role and what do you hope to bring to the Commonwealth?
The role as Deputy Chief Data Officer serves as the Chief Operating Officer to the Chief Data Officer and serves as the CDO’s technical adviser. My hope is to operationalize and add more efficiencies to our data onboarding process, expand our data-sharing platform to include more agencies and organizations within the Commonwealth, display the power of data within the Commonwealth through intelligence reporting and analytics, and provide a standard for data governance.
I’m looking forward to creating new partnerships between the Office of the Chief Data Officer and Commonwealth agencies and showing them how the platform we now have to share data across the Commonwealth can be leveraged to make more-informed decisions and increase their own efficiencies.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Every person has an end-user experience that should be considered. Anyone can build solutions, but good solutions are the ones centered around people and what our constituents need.
The Office of the Chief Data Officer has a focus on data talent development and data literacy, if you could give advice to an aspiring data professional, what would it be?
Get proficient in understanding relational and non-relational databases and the solutions available to access and manipulate data. If you’re going to get into data, you have to start understanding databases, how they’re stored, and how to access them. Equally as important, is having an understanding of the business. Technical knowledge alone is not enough, it has to be coupled with the ability to understand strategy, business objectives, and how to build relationships.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
I like to use the phrase “Stop Starting and Start Finishing.” I believe the best way to get things done is to first actually define what “done” means, listing those priorities out, and then completing the task.
What’s your go-to order at your favorite hometown restaurant?
Cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla milkshake from Dairy Hart in Danville, Virginia.
With a full plate and swirling priorities, what are your best tips for productivity, time management, and preventing burnout?
Setting and managing expectations is critical. It’s important to let people know when they can expect things given what’s on your plate and where it falls in the list of priorities. You have to pace yourself. It’s really important to take time to decompress (and it actually increases productivity). It's acceptable to put work down at the end of the day and enjoy friends and family. In addition to spending quality time with those I love, I also like to decompress while riding my Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, but a Harley is the next bike on my list!