New CDO is focusing on boosting the company’s data governance and access
As loanDepot’s first-ever chief data officer, it’s not surprising that Elijah Pallante (pictured) can hold long conversations about data. He has a lot to say on the subject, viewing data as increasingly crucial to his company’s operations and life in general.
“The amount of data connections that we have, the amount of data that we self-produce, just based on our clients [and] organically for our websites, all the different experiences that we have across the company, let alone all of the data that we bring in and that we pay for and we leverage with vendor sources, it’s just growing more and more,” Pallante said.
“The need is to make sure that we are using data as efficiently as possible, that we’re cataloging it, that we understand the data we have and that we’re maximizing the value of the data [and] not paying for the same data twice.”
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Another goal: to maximize the value of data so it can be used in as many areas as possible.
Pallante said loanDepot’s more complex use of data comes as consumers are also getting increasingly savvy about its benefits and how it is being used. The mortgage industry is also finally catching up to data’s potential, he said.
“The mortgage industry traditionally trailed behind in these types of things,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go but I feel like the understanding is getting there.”
He added that the role of chief data officer as part of a company’s executive roster – relatively new within the last 20 years – “is becoming more and more familiar in our industry.”
A promotion and substantial goals
Before his promotion at loanDepot, which has more than 11,600 employees, Pallante served as vice president for corporate development at the company – a digital mortgage lender that provides home loans for purchase and refinance. In that position, he focused, in part, on project management and partnering on strategy and execution.
In his new position as chief data officer, Pallante is concentrating on, naturally, all things data, particularly on ensuring that it is clean, protected and trusted. But there’s more.
“The ease of access [to data] goes with that as well, making sure that it is not just trusted, but that our partners across the business have the ability to easily access that data… and they’re able to self-serve and be able to drive these insights to a great degree themselves without having to engage technical experts,” Pallante said.
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Put a different way, Pallante said his job will focus on data governance and monetization.
Pallante will work closely with Bill Wied, loanDepot’s senior vice president and chief technology officer who joined the company at the end of 2021. Together, their positions are complementary, Pallante said.
“[Wied] handles a lot of the technical infrastructure around the data, [i.e.] how the databases are architected,” Pallante said. “How we ultimately consume and store that data so that it is easy to be accessed is really the primary focus,” from his perspective.
Pallante has an immediate goal in place for his first months in the new position.
“The first year is [about] really centralizing and getting data custodians in place so that we can clean our data and make sure that it’s trusted and easy to access,” Pallante said.
In layman’s terms, a data custodian fills a precise purpose.
“A custodian is an expert in the area of that specific data, so whether it’s customer data – the data our customers are filing out online on an application and the data that’s derived from that area specifically, [it’s] knowing that data inside and out – its purpose, value [and] usage across the company, and then making sure that anything that impacts that data is monitored and that governance is applied appropriately,” Pallante said.
Before any specific hiring, however, loanDepot is assessing what kinds of appointments with data expertise it will need.
“The exercise we’re going through right now… is an assessment and making sure that we have a full understanding of the duties and responsibilities related to data across the company, along with the data and architecture, and then making decisions from there on what we need in the near-term organizationally,” Pallante said.
He added that when the company reaches [business as usual] and has the infrastructure in place around data governance and access, then it will figure out organizational structure around data operations for the long term.