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Data Steward, the data management maestro

Human resources

The digital transformation is in full swing at Safran, with ever-growing volumes of data generated by our design, production, operations and maintenance activities. Extracting value from this data is the next big challenge. And at the heart of this process is the data steward, tasked with ensuring data is high quality to effectively meet the needs of the business and get the most out of these valuable assets.

Jean-Philippe FRENILLOT Data Steward

When he took up his position as Health Monitoring Customer Support Engineer at Safran Aircraft Engines in 2018, Jean-Philippe Frenillot didn’t realize he was to become a data steward. This role has emerged gradually as the company’s different sectors – engineering, customer support, the CFM Analytics program(1) – have sought to make more extensive use of engine data collected in flight, such as pressure, temperature, power status, etc. It was further boosted by Safran’s decision to embark on its digital transformation and deploy a full-fledged data governance policy across the organization. Jean-Philippe explains: “This data enables us to respond more effectively to operational issues faced by our airline customers, like on-wing events, additional maintenance inspections and operations, etc., but also to develop products that deliver even better performance. Hence the growing interest. To address all these emerging demands, we needed a focal point – a conduit between the business and IT. That’s how my role as data steward came about.”


Relevant, value-added solutions

Jean-Philippe devotes about one-quarter of his time to his data steward tasks. These include gathering, analyzing and prioritizing users’ needs, working with the IT department to identify the most relevant solutions, obtaining funding, and monitoring progress. “In addition, I organize training sessions on the tools involved and lead a users’ committee where people can share feedback and pinpoint areas for improvement,” says Jean-Philippe. In all these tasks, the watchwords for the data that is captured are added value, consistency, quality and sustainability.

“Data quality is critical to getting the most value out of new and existing data,” he emphasizes. “Defining quality indicators will enable us to determine the current status of data assets already acquired and establish ways to improve it. This is one of the main aspects I’ll be focusing on in 2022.”

Experience with data

For Jean-Philippe, who’s 37 and has a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics and combustion, switching to the world of data wasn’t such a major change. “I’d already been in charge of developing a dashboard and other display tools,” he comments. “And above all, I was familiar with the engine-related data involved and how it’s used by the company’s different sectors. Having a technical background is crucial to understanding users’ needs and to being able to defend their case when it comes to getting funding. It’s a big plus!” As for the knowledge required to be able to liaise with IT teams, Jean-Philippe’s natural curiosity and drive allowed him to quickly get up to speed. “I didn’t require any training,” he says.

“My experience was enough for me to be able to work with the data managers on defining the skills needed to become a data steward. This work also allowed us to develop a learning program with Safran University.”

Career development possibilities

So, what’s next? Potential future moves for Jean-Philippe include data management or cross-functional project management. “What appealed about the role of data steward is the possibility of transforming abstract data into tangible solutions,” he remarks. “This is a skill that can be transferred to other jobs not necessarily linked to data. Because ‘data steward’ isn’t strictly speaking a technical role, there are endless career development possibilities.”


(1) A team tasked with developing a strategy and defining priorities for CFM engine data analysis. Not to be confused with Safran Analytics, the corporate entity in charge of data management at Group level.