“What does the data say?“: Earning trust as a data professional
TBK: Episode 31
This episode features an interview with Anita Gandhi, Vice President of Analytics at SmileDirectClub, leaders in oral care and creators of the first telehealth platform for orthodontia. Anita has been with SmileDirectClub since 2019. Prior to SDC, she served as Head of Analytics at FreshDirect. On this episode, Anita talks about how she would rework the data structure at SmileDirect Club if she could start fresh, enabling data self-service among the SDC analysts, and how she helps strengthen her analytics team.
About the guest
Anita Gandhi is VP of Analytics at SmileDirectClub. She joined in 2019, so she has been with SDC for over 3 years now. Prior to SDC, she served as Head of Analytics at FreshDirect. She has also worked for PlaceIQ and Experian.
”My number one thing about building trust in the data is admitting when it’s wrong. I have seen people go down in flames[… ]by defending the data till the end and then it turning out to be wrong. Data is imperfect. It is built by human beings, and there are lots of reasons why it can go wrong. And when there’s a question about the data, if you approach it as, ‘Well, it’s possible. Let’s look into it,’ and when there is a problem, being very communicative and accepting that there was something wrong with the data, then people start to trust you when you say, ‘This data is right.’”
”Anyone on the analytics team who got a request from the CEO would drop everything that they’re doing and work on that. And we had a lot of trouble finishing projects. So it’s been building the confidence in the team, and the leaders on my team to ask that question when something comes in from leadership, ‘Hey, we wanna know this,’ or ‘Hey, we wanna do this,’ and say, ‘We can do it right now. Is it more important than finishing this project? Or is it something that can wait for a couple of days for us to get to it?’ And I think really debunking the idea that everything is urgent and putting a pin in false urgency is what really helps you make that happen.”
[2:20] What was Anita’s path to VP of Analytics at SmileDirectClub?
[5:05] How is SmileDirectClub data-driven?
[7:12] How does Anita build trust in the data?
[11:15] What kind of challenges is Anita navigating as VP of Analytics at SDC?
[13:54] How is Anita powering smart decisions at SDC through data analytics?
[17:29] How does the analytics team navigate prioritizing data projects, especially with requests from leadership?
[19:04] What are the issues with catering to self-service among a data team?
[26:29] Why is it important to let the people on your team fail?
[29:02] How does Anita stay on top of new information in the data field?
[30:15] What advice would Anita give someone going into her role for the first time?
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