Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Dallas CDAO Community

Monish Balasundaram

Head of Analytics


Monish Balasundaram is the Head of Analytics for Amazon Transportation Services at Inc., a tech organization with revenue exceeding $0.5 trillion annually, and a global workforce of over 1.5 million employees. Additionally, he is a member of the highly selective Forbes Technology Council and serves as a Governing Body Member of the Dallas CDAO Community.

Learn more about the Dallas CDAO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

I was good at math and had good analytical thinking, but my impatience to see practical results nudged me from a research-oriented education to a quantitative business-oriented career. 

My undergraduate education was in Aeronautical Engineering. While many of my peers entered research fields, I found my calling in business as I realized that I was motivated by seeing my work implemented in the real world. In aerospace research, ideas don't come off the blackboard easily and can sometimes take a decade to make a real-world impact. So, I naturally gravitated towards business and came to the US to do my Masters in Industrial Engineering, which is more suitable for everyday industries. 

I found my niche in supply chain, because it was supposed to be a highly analytical and data-driven field. However, I found that many companies lacked analytics and data-driven supply chain planning and decisions, from granular event-level data generation to algorithm-driven decision making. But I trusted my instincts that analytics for supply chain planning was a gold mine with a long runway for learning and growth and hitched my ride to this wagon. Besides that, I did not tactically plan out my career path to where I am today. I just focused on continuous learning and application of new technologies. I kept getting recognized for using analytics and tech to solve supply chain and logistics problems in an innovative manner, and one thing led to another, and here I am at Amazon.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

I admire Amazon's leadership principles, particularly Earn Trust, Learn and Be Curious and Deliver Results. These principles have played a vital role in my career growth, reinforcing to myself the value of continuous learning, fostering transparency with peers and being dependable for our leaders.

With disruption being a key theme of recent years, where do you see the CDAO role going in the next 1-2 years?

Recent developments in AI empowers non-technical users to leverage and derive insights from Big Data with natural language. This will lead to increased expectations of data and analytics leaders (CDAOs) from their stakeholders who no longer approach them with an exploratory idea. 

These stakeholders will come to the data leaders equipped with a deeper understanding, presenting complex and challenging problems that require solutions. I welcome this change as it will improve organizational productivity. CDAOs must be prepared to meet the higher bar and get their teams further upskilled and repositioned to execute swiftly. The focus will shift away from development efforts, and CDAOs will be evaluated based on their ability to execute.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a CDAO?

Build and foster relationships early, hire the best talent and trust them to make decisions.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

I like to surf, consume sci-fi content in any form, and love dogs.

What is the value of joining an Evanta community? 

Evanta is good at being exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive in the sense, they excel at meticulously vetting their members and accept only the most accomplished leaders for their membership. So, you get to learn from and teach other high caliber executives. As the saying goes, "iron sharpens iron." 

Evanta is inclusive in the sense, they provide ample opportunities for these leaders to contribute to their business and tech communities. They encourage participation through content creation, presentations, brainstorming sessions, and workshops. This leads to high-quality content and learning being available for anyone and not just senior leaders.

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

by CDAOs, for CDAOs

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