Meet the Biggest Names in Data: The 2021 Informatica CDO Award Winners

Last Published: Sep 30, 2021 |
Susan Wilson
Susan Wilson

GVP North America Solutions Leader 

Today, nearly two in three Fortune 1000 organizations have appointed a CDO. You’d be hard-pressed to find a company or public agency that hasn’t boasted about the importance of data as a strategic asset. But unleashing the full value of your data is also fraught with technical and diplomatic challenges. CDOs are expected to cultivate data-driven organizations and lead digital transformations, while also meeting critical day-to-day business needs.

At Informatica, we are committed to our community of CDOs, and this year we’ve launched a variety of new initiatives for these innovative business leaders. We formed our Executive Advisory Board for CDOs, engaging executive leaders in frank conversations about how they attract talent, shape culture, and build a foundation of data literacy. Now, live from our CDO Data Strategy Forum, we’re thrilled to announce the recipients of our first-ever Informatica CDO Awards, a new annual tradition for recognizing data-driven leaders who are fueling the next wave of innovation and value creation.

Announcing the first-ever Informatica CDO Awards  recipients 

To reflect the vast landscape of modern data strategy, we’ve recognized 13 winners and honorees across four categories aligned with IDC’s four archetypes for data-driven leadership

Every data leader knows that technical innovation is only half the battle. You also need to motivate diverse stakeholders to trust and use that data in their daily workflows and decision-making. The winning stories that follow reveal the multiple dimensions by which CDOs affect change, from cloud migration and application modernization to data democratization and stewardship. 

IDC, ”Chief Data Officers: The New Business Leaders,” August 2020

While Informatica celebrates our data community every day, we’re excited to extend a special congratulations to these results-driven trailblazers. Read on to meet our 2021 Informatica CDO Awards recipients and let their experiences inspire the next chapter of your data journey.

  • Analytics Champion — Winner: Wendy Batchelder, VMware
    • Honorees
      • Rachini Ahmadi-Moosavi, UNC Health
      • Sylvan "Sibito" Morley III, Lumen
  • Digital Innovator — Winner: Ashok Chennuru, Anthem
    • Honorees
      • Henry Aguda, Union Bank of the Philippines
      • Barney Krucoff, District of Columbia Government
      • Katie Ward, Sage Group
  • Governance Guru — Winner: Sonya Crosby, Westpac New Zealand
    • Honorees
      • Svetlana Bova, VTB Bank
      • Sylvain Pendaries, Janus Henderson
  • Operational Optimizer — Winner: Vipin Gopal, Eli Lilly
    • Honorees
      • Aravind Jagannathan, Freddie Mac
      • Dr. Yao Yuhui, FWD Group

Analytics Champion: Wendy Batchelder delivers 50% faster business insights at VMware

As chief data officer for cloud computing platform VMware, Wendy Batchelder was tasked with leading an enterprise-wide digital transformation called “Project Basecamp,” bringing trusted data and self-service analytics to the business user community. Her team delivered – launching a unified data foundation and governed data marketplace in less than three months, saving employees as much as 50% of the time previously required to source data and insights.

Now, Batchelder is extending this modernized data stack to improve downstream business applications such as SAP, Salesforce, and Oracle E-business Suite. 


  • Sylvan “Sibito” Morley III, Lumen, chief data officer, for consolidating more than 4,000 legacy applications into a unified “data backplane,” streamlining operations following M&A activity

Digital Innovator: Ashok Chennuru saves $10 million in data onboarding time at Anthem

At health insurance provider Anthem, chief data and analytics officer Ashok Chennuru was looking for an edge as the enterprise ramped up its big data and cloud migration programs. By leveraging AI to standardize and enhance the insurer’s metadata catalog, Chennuru’s team streamlines data onboarding for new projects from days to hours, supporting over 2,000 employee data consumers. 

This faster speed to market for trusted data assets makes daunting digital transformation projects feasible and has already recouped an estimated $10 million annually in time and cost savings.  


  • Henry Aguda, Union Bank of the Philippines, chief transformation officer, for achieving 12x higher revenue by empowering customers to use digital banking services on mobile devices
  • Barney Krucoff, District of Columbia Government, chief data officer, for accelerated reporting during the city’s COVID-19 response, saving hours per day in tracking public health metrics
  • Katie Ward, Sage Group, VP, data & analytics, for integrating cloud applications across the business to enhance the company’s AI-powered SaaS offerings

Governance Guru: Sonya Crosby achieves 96.5% data engagement rate at Westpac

Building a data-driven culture was particularly challenging at Westpac New Zealand, one of the region’s oldest and most established banking institutions. When Sonya Crosby joined as chief data officer in August 2020, amidst the uncertainty of the first COVID-19 lockdowns, she needed to elevate data maturity across the organization and modernize over 160 years of data morphed across multiple systems and coding languages.

Through roadmap discussions with over 200 company stakeholders, Crosby’s team formed a comprehensive data governance program, including the creation of a central, user-friendly catalog and glossary and innovative formats like “MakerSpaces” where teams collaborate on machine learning projects incorporating data science, engineering, software development, security, and customer experience design.

In just one year, this program has powered over 35,000 unique sessions and achieved a remarkable 96.5% engagement rate among data owners and users. 


  • Svetlana Bova, VTB Bank, chief data officer, for implementing Russia’s first major financial data governance program in less than a year, unifying 12,000 business terms and decreasing data processing costs by up to 20%
  • Sylvain Pendaries, Janus Henderson, global head of data, for leading a governance transformation following a major M&A, while also delivering investor insights 40% faster in the cloud

Operational Optimizer: Vipin Gopal cuts clinical trial timelines by 20% at Eli Lilly

When Vipin Gopal, Ph.D. joined pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly in 2018 as its chief data and analytics officer, he envisioned data-driven insights accelerating every aspect of drug development, from discovery to commercialization. By managing data through a central Enterprise Data Program, Gopal’s team synchronizes siloed data sources across the 145-year-old organization and enables teams beyond R&D to uncover new insights.

One exceptional result has been faster start-up times for new clinical studies. Thanks to trusted AI models that determine optimal country, site, and enrollment criteria, Eli Lilly reduces discontinuation rates and accelerates drug development timelines by up to 20%, while reducing millions of dollars in operational costs.


  • Aravind “Jag” Jagannathan, Freddie Mac, chief data officer, for using automated quality controls to protect more than 11 million active home mortgage loans as the lender migrates data from on-premises to cloud environments
  • Dr. Yao Yuhui, FWD Group, chief data officer, for powering 20% more efficient personalized marketing campaigns for Hong Kong’s leading tech-driven insurer

Jump-start your CDO journey

We’re grateful for all the nominations we received for this year’s awards program and look forward to creating more ways to elevate our executive partners and data champions in the months and years ahead. If you’re interested in learning more about this critical new seat in the C-suite, you can visit our CDO Hub where we’ve gathered exclusive interviews, real-world case studies, and deep-dive playbooks to help you write your next chapter. 

First Published: Sep 28, 2021