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#46 Unilever’s Vandana Khanna and Deeksha Singh on Demystifying Data, Dreaming Bigger, and Inspiring Business Users with The Art of the Possible

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If you look around your home, it’s very likely you have at least one item from the Unilever family of brands lying around. From the soap in your shower to the ice cream bars in your freezer, Unilever delivers everyday products that help people get more out of life. And they rely on data to ensure they’re doing so sustainably. 

Today’s guests are Unilever Director of Digital Finance Transformation, Vandana Khanna, and Director of Data and Analytics, Deeksha Singh. On this episode, the two leaders join Cindi to share exactly how they’re using data to impact everything from supply chain decisions to employee belonging. They also dive into how they are demystifying data at every level, eliminating manual reporting and data visualization work, and using data and AI to be a more sustainable company. All of this and more in today’s episode with Vandana Khanna and Deeksha Singh. 

Get even more insights from data and analytics leaders like Vandana and Deeksha on The Data Chief

Key Takeaways

  • Change starts with inspiration: When an organization is used to manually creating dashboard reports for every business question or visualizing data in Excel, it can be hard to break these habits and change behaviors at scale. The key is inspiring people with the art of the possible. Show users what good looks like and how technology can empower them to be faster and smarter, and the rest will follow.
  • Digital transformation goes hand in hand with opportunity: It’s common for business people to run for the hills when they hear the word “transformation.” As a leader, it’s important to communicate that there’s nothing to fear. There is no transformation without people. You need both to move the needle, and often people’s roles become even more important because they’re needed to ensure the technology is working as it should.
  • You may never be bias-free, but you can be bias-aware: People and data are inherently biased, but thankfully bias awareness is growing in corporate culture. One of the most effective ways that global brands like Unilever are achieving less bias and more diversity is by bringing more diverse leaders into the fold. These leaders bring new perspectives and context to processes that increase the inclusivity of your product and organization overall. 

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Vandana Khanna
As a digital transformation Leader and Director of Digital Finance Transformation at Unilever, Vandana has extensive experience in Finance, IT, Supply Chain, and Product Management — delivering analytics, data science, and automation capabilities that help companies thrive. With deep expertise in CPG, Telecommunications, Retail, and Pharma, I lead diverse teams of direct and indirect reports and drive results through finely-tuned business acumen using Agile practices. 

She is responsible for leading the design and delivery of complex projects leveraging BI and Data Analytics to answer critical business questions, detect consumer behavior and provide creative solutions for a wide range of business challenges.

She incorporates technologies like IoT, Cloud, Big Data to improve the financial performance of any organization. I have developed business intelligence and reporting solutions through ETL, Data governance, and Data Visualization.

Deeksha Singh

Deeksha is the Director of Data and Analytics at Unilever, who is an information technology leader, with more than 10 years of experience. She is well-versed in Platform, Operations Management, Data & Analytics, and Digital Transformation. She has proven expertise in managing complex transformation initiatives, navigating ambiguities, and partnering with Senior Stakeholders. Deeksha is recognized for cost-effective system improvements, operational streamlining, efficient change management, and a positive leadership style. Currently, she is setting up the Global Analytics Platform for Unilever simplifying access to data and insights, while crafting seamless user experience and joined-up user journeys.

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Episode 47