Governing Body Spotlight

Co-Chair of the UK CDAO Community

Sanjeevan Bala

Group Chief Data & AI Officer


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

I started off in Australia in investment banking and quickly moved to New York to work for a strategy consulting firm. I spent time working with clients in Pharma, Retail, Banking, Media and Grocery, with a focus on how to place the customer at the heart of your business. As the internet started to take off, I got the bug and built a number of startup businesses in Silicon Valley, where I learned how to leverage emerging technologies and scale digital experiences. Returning to London, I joined Dunnhumby – the company that pioneered the use of data to drive business innovation and growth. I was then brought in to Channel4 to build a world class data capability, which secured patents and won numerous awards. 

My role at ITV is group-wide and focuses on how data can be used to drive innovation and growth across how we commission and acquire content, promote, distribute, and monetize. Ultimately, this entails accelerating the multiyear digital transformation as part of our More than TV strategy.

Learn more about leaders in the UK CDAO community here.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Constantly re-imagine the future by looking outside your organisation for ideas.

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

I see a two-step evolution of the role. The first is to be a driving force of growth. The second is to accelerate this by upskilling and empowering colleagues in the entire business, as part of a lifetime learning agenda.

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

Spend time understanding and decoding the culture of the organisation. This will help you to figure out the scale of the change challenge.

Don’t talk about data or technology, but instead focus on value outcomes in a language spoken by the business. Specifically, map the end-to-end value chain and then have plenty of "what if" conversations with business leaders.

Reach out to the community for support. It can be lonely in the role, and you’ll feel everything from unrealistic expectations to chronic imposter syndrome. Get help and build your tribe of supporters!

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

After years of practice, I've finally mastered the Kouign Amann (a sweet Breton cake).

I love Lego! The simplicity of the brick combined with the endless possibilities of building.

My kids can almost beat me at Mario Kart… Ok, I lied, they thrash me. But I did have the fastest lap time on Rainbow Road.

What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?

A trusted community of practitioners that will happily share the ‘warts and all’ experiences in unfiltered form. It's a great source of inspiration with relevant debates, talks and carefully curated events. It's my go-to network for advice and a second opinion on crunchy issues.



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