As Chief Data Officer (CDO) of Barclays Africa, she’s disarmingly funny, laughing at the same frequency as she dishes out data analysis and insights.

Hadjibashi started her banking career at Wells Fargo in California, USA, while still a BSc undergraduate at the University of California.

Positions at Deutsche Bank Global Markets in New York and PwC Assurance & Business Advisory in San Francisco followed before she joined Barclays in 2010, working across digital and mobile product innovations and customer experience. She’s been CDO at Barclays Africa in Johannesburg since 2015, effectively leading the big-data transformation for the bank across the continent, with a focus on establishing open-source big-data platforms and building intelligent consumer-centric products.

With an MBA from Harvard, she says she’s enjoying giving local effect to her personal leadership skills, which she defines as having a “global DNA”. Although many of her team members are her own age or older, she’s not fazed by the authority she holds and is focused only on the bigger picture of her task.

“I’m driven by the freedom I have to shape things from scratch, because I’m the first CDO and the youngest C-suite level executive at the organisation. Being blessed with the opportunity to shape our data organisation culture from scratch is also important, as is being able to define a more modern meaning of legacy. As a corporate leader from the millennial generation, the desire to have macro-societal and people impact overweighs my personal corporate growth,” says Hadjibashi.

Her effortless code-shifting between her fresh, young image to one of experience and deep wisdom is striking. However, she explains that her childhood forced her to grow up quickly. “After moving from Iran to Germany when I was eight, having experienced the Iran-Iraq war first-hand while in first grade, I took the lead in helping my family integrate into German society. As the first family member to learn German, I became the translator for all financial, immigration and legal matters,” she recalls.

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