Kemi Nelson

Data and Analytics Professional

Operating out of Dallas, Texas, Kemi Nelson is a seasoned executive with years of experience in data and analytics roles in corporate settings. Kemi most recently served as the director of strategy and business architecture for USAA’s P&C insurance division. Before this, she was a data decision science leader at a major financial institution.
As a passionate executive, Kemi Nelson believes in driving business growth. She is well-known in her professional circle and is dedicated to developing and inspiring talent. Kemi Nelson has an immeasurable capacity to inspire and uplift her team members through her cognitive prowess.
Academically, Kemi Nelson commands cognitive prowess, a platform she uses to lead others to high performance. She graduated from the University of Ibadan, a leading university in Nigeria, with an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree. Kemi graduated with first-class honors and was also the first female student to receive a Summa Cum Laude award. She later obtained her Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas. Kemi is pursuing a doctorate in strategic leadership, focusing on data. She has also participated in various training courses to develop her skills throughout her career.
Before stepping into her data and analytics executive role, Kemi Nelson began her career as an Operations Analysis Manager for Capital One in Texas. Kemi led a small team in this role and was responsible for strategy, analytical financial data, and incentives. She designed new and innovative programs while helping enhance the team’s performance. Her incredible leadership skills led to an increase in revenue and performance. Kemi’s exceptional leadership abilities continue to be recognized. She has also been awarded multiple certifications and honors.
Later in her career, her leadership skills were proven exceptional when Kemi Nelson moved on to GE Capital Americas. She earned multiple Above and Beyond awards and certifications at GE Capital Americas. She is consistently recognized as a strong leader who drives results and helps her teams understand and interpret critical business data.
As a leader in the data and analytics industry, Kemi Nelson places her team members at the center of her attention and is dedicated to helping them reach their full potential. She also values their talents and is passionate about developing and inspiring them. Regardless of the situation, she can significantly impact by setting high expectations and motivating her team members. Kemi is regarded as a champion raiser, which means she can help younger individuals reach their professional and academic goals.
Outside of her successful career, Kemi is passionate about volunteering and spending time with her family. She frequently helps schools and other organizations by serving as a financial advisor. She also founded a college prep program called ChampionRISER International. Kemi Nelson and her team at ChampionRISER International aim to help students and parents get the most out of their college admissions process. By finding the right educational fit, they can ensure that more people reach their academic goals.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM four days a week; 5:30 AM on other days. To own my day, I dedicate the first hour to grounding myself with prayerful meditation. This helps me take charge and feel God-instilled confidence, knowing that external experiences are only serendipitously arranged for my success.
Then, I get some exercise in. Self-care is important if you’re going to lead and care for anyone else. My workday starts with catching up on the news, clearing emails, and mapping out must-dos on my calendar.

I define my productivity as both a value and an impact metric. One question I ask in my 1:1 meetings is this: what can I do to make you more successful today? That is impact right there. If I can make someone more successful, I deliver value and impact to our collective purpose.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I believe in the power of the collective brain trust. I am a smart visioner and creative thinker. When I bring teams with strong execution into my strong strategic foresight, it creates dynamo. I curate my ideas and try to see the unique value each one holds. I take an analytical approach when identifying ideas that are worth exploring. This gives me a more objective view of the idea’s significance and potential. Doing this also helps me come up with a better plan for concept implementation.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Reverse mentoring in our complex multigenerational workplace is interesting. I’m a firm believer in the next generation. I also believe in living with a mindful legacy in mind. This shows up in various ways that drive innovation. Think about it—ChatGPT was not invented by the older generation, but it does rest on the shoulders of their stability. Data and analytics have been such a huge part of my career, which is why I’m looking forward to the emerging trends in the D&A space. I’m excited to see how AI will unfold here in the coming years. How can it help scale D&A operations? What risks should we keep an eye out for?

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I wake up very early. Waking up before everyone else allows me to meditate, work, or plan my day without too much distraction. Getting up early also helps me set a more positive frame of mind. Furthermore, I ground life and business challenges to my values, and the top two are integrity and love. These can and do create profitability. By pulling my business value and impact to that value system, productivity is assured.

What advice would you give your younger self?

“Dear Kemi, there’ll be several challenges ahead of you—some of which you never imagined you’ll be facing. Trust the process and know that you’re capable not only of triumph but also of helping others achieve their greatest dreams. There is power in purpose and serendipity. ”

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

The sole value of an entrepreneur’s existence is measured not in their “now” but in their “then”. It’s measured by their legacy—by their investment in the next generation.
Also, while passion is a great fuel, you can’t run and grow a successful business on passion alone. To become successful, you need to be vulnerable. You need to put yourself out there, even if there’s no clear outcome. Letting go is also a big part of evolving.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Render every discussion into a problem statement and be insatiably curious. What problem are you solving? What “cause worth fighting for” is driving you? Even in the most microscopic encounters, this helps to deliver impact in a way that is meaningful, and you can then use what you’ve learned to help others.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Swim laps! The bilateral strokes help reset and reframe perspectives.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

I want to build healthy, long-term relationships with our clients and partners. At ChampRISER, we offer robust support and customized learning plans designed to grow with the learner. I make sure that while I have high expectations for aspiring students, I always take a loving approach. We live in a VUCA world where an entrepreneur must embrace diverse thinking and eschew narrow-mindedness.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

When I was younger, I didn’t really know myself. I had multiple back-to-back losses in one season of life, and I continued to be the hero, taking care of others and failing to really prioritize my grief and healing. But when the dedication and care I was giving was not reciprocated, I felt used. I had unspoken needs and felt hurt. The trauma seeped out. If I had not taken a retreat, I could have lost relationships. Interestingly, relationships also set the way for my healing. Through healthier relationships and community, I realized that It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to take care of yourself and speak up about what you need. Truly, community is everything, and good relationships can allow us to thrive.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

You need to take your role as a business leader seriously, but you shouldn’t lose sight of your partners, stakeholders, and clients. Each person is on a unique journey, and, in your own unique way, you can guide them and help them succeed.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Google Workspace offers a great platform to get things done. Google Docs assists in collaboration and document sharing with teams. Google Chat comes in handy for quick messages and voice or video meetings. Google Sheets and Google Calendar help ensure things stay organized despite a busy schedule. Everything needed to stay operationally productive is on Google Workspace.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

I like to spend money on simplifying family living. For instance, my family takes international trips often. I spent more or less $100 on my young daughter’s global entry. Now my family doesn’t have to stand in long lines like when she didn’t have it.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Writing my soon-to-be-released memoir autofiction – Rising Tall – evolved my perspective on vulnerability. As a businesswoman, mother, and wife, there’s a need to maintain a strong façade. However, real life is filled with ups and downs. I’m also an avid follower of Brené Brown and Simon Sinek’s schools of thought. Simon’s Infinite Game is a great read.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

Can I be honest? Between my busy corporate life, entrepreneurial life, parenting, and doctoral studies, I have come to value sleep more than the screen. However, I love spending quality time with my family, and we love to travel together and create lasting positive experiences (when we’re not sleeping).

Key learnings:

-Know your cause that’s worth fighting for. It helps deliver impact in a more meaningful way, allowing you to use what you’ve learned to help others.
-Leverage the collective brain trust, combine strong strategic foresight with execution capabilities to innovate and bring greatness to life.
-The lasting value of an entrepreneur is measured not in their “now” but in their “then”. Measured by their legacy. Measured by their investment in the next generation.
-Passion is a great fuel, but you can’t run a business and make it successful just on passion alone. To become successful, you need to be vulnerable. You need to put yourself out there, even if there’re no clear outcomes.
-Letting go is also a big part of evolving. Don’t be afraid to trust the process and find purpose and serendipity in life’s journey.