(US & Canada) VIDEO | A Data Governance Program Is a Long-Term Commitment — Swire Coca-Cola, USA - VP Enterprise Data and Applications

Bharathi Rajan, VP enterprise Data and Applications at Swire Coca-Cola - USA, speaks with Asha Saxena, Founder and CEO of WLDA.tech, in the CDO Magazine's Women's History Month series of video interviews, about celebrating women in tech, her role in the company, the need to have solid data foundations, executing a data governance program, building AI ethically, and the role of women in the AI age.

Creating a diverse but equitable world for future generations of women is critical, says Rajan.

Commenting on AI, she considers it to be the game changer and mentions Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT as her favorite and most used tools.

Adding on, Rajan shares how Co-pilot has made her professional life easier with its summarizing feature, and how ChatGPT helps her in her personal life. She further mentions coming up with a name for the multicultural inclusion network with the help of ChatGPT.

Shedding light on her role, Rajan says that it is focused on data and she leads the enterprise data and applications. Elaborating, she continues that everything from data strategy to governance, to data engineering, and to application development systems comes under her purview.

Rajan’s expertise also envelopes the forecasting and budget planning process and strategy around power platforms. She maintains that her role provides a window into what goes on across different business aspects and how technology can be used to help.

The company focuses on expanding data and technology products, which leads to having a strategy and vision around commercializing data or making data as a product.

Delving further, Rajan states that data is foundational because nothing is possible without the right data. Having the data foundations involves having trustworthy data, which in turn, includes data accuracy, quality, and availability when needed.

The business cannot function if the data available does not generate insights, says Rajan. Therefore, having a solid data foundation is the catalyst for building an AI foundation, business insights, or building data products.  

Emphasizing data governance, Rajan asserts that it takes time to establish a data governance program, is a commitment, and cannot be built overnight. The approach should be both top-down and bottom-up as everyone across the enterprise must be included.

Sharing about her journey of building the program, she reveals that it has taken a year and a half to establish the program. It started with laying the right foundation and getting the executive buy-in. Next, it boils down to creating enthusiasm and awareness about the criticality of data quality and the governance around it.

This leads to getting people committed to becoming data stewards and becoming a part of the journey. Rajan affirms that a data governance program cannot be built in silos as it requires the support and trust of each organizational function.

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(US & Canada) VIDEO | A Data Governance Program Is a Long-Term Commitment — Swire Coca-Cola, USA - VP Enterprise Data and Applications

She further says that having the right team structure to launch AI functional areas depends on the organization. However, Rajan opines that having three core team members including a data engineer, data governance analyst, and data scientist is immensely important. The other value-add roles in the team would be of a BI analyst and a Scrum master.

When asked about being ethical and responsible while building AI, Rajan stresses the importance of ethical AI. A crucial role in this aspect is that of product owners who should thoroughly know the product and its biases.

While the product owners will be at the forefront, handling the accountability of biases, having enterprise-level AI governance is imperative from the governance standpoint. Rajan maintains that everyone in the organization must be brought in and included in the program. According to her, if a governance program does not exist, then getting an AI ethical program or an ethics policy in place becomes challenging.

Highlighting the role of women in the age of AI, Rajan raises her concern about the low number of women in leadership roles. She says that women bring in diverse perspectives when given a seat at the table, irrespective of the domain.

In conclusion, Rajan dedicates Women's History Month to her late mother for empowering her and to fellow women leaders for nurturing her from a professional standpoint.

CDO Magazine appreciates Bharathi Rajan for sharing her invaluable insights with our global community.

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