Krishna Cheriath

VP, Head of Digital, Data, and Analytics, Zoetis Inc., and former CDO, Bristol Myers Squibb


Krishna Cheriath recently took on the leadership of Digital, Data, and Analytics at Zoetis, Inc., a global animal health company. Zoetis is the world’s largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock. Krishna is responsible for driving an effective digital, data, and analytics strategy. Prior to this, he was the Chief Data Officer for Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), a global biopharmaceutical company. He served as BMS’s data strategist for improving data quality and as BMS “evangelist” for data sharing and data-driven innovation. He was also considered a lead technologist for data and analytic automation.

Krishna has over 27 years of experience in digital, technology, data, and analytics. Before Bristol Myers Squibb, he was a management consultant working for such firms as TCS, PWC, IBM, and Accenture. Krishna received his undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Kerala and his MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University. Krishna is a thought leader. From his experiences as a management consultant advising fortune 500 companies on digital strategy and technology acceleration to being an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Krishna is in a position to offer learned insights on the success of digital strategies—as well as their leaders.

Key Theme: The Job of a CDO Is Multidimensional

We first discussed Krishna’s multiple roles as Chief Data Officer. “My role is multidimensional—it is part data strategist, part digital strategist, part data evangelist, part technologist, part data shrink, and part empathizer around the quality of the data. I help connect the company’s digital strategy to its business imperatives to ensure that the data availability, velocity, quality, and control are paramount, so the organization is able to derive value from its data.

“I also describe my role as something similar to an accordion. When I meet CDOs from other industries, most of them say, ‘You will have a tenure of two, maybe three years. There is a lot of turnover.’ You will have a honeymoon period when you have political capital, but if you spend this period trying to do an ‘empire-building’ exercise or trying to launch into a big transformational program that doesn’t yield value for multiple years, you will not succeed. You need to be able to come in, help craft a vision, then be able to do two things at the same time. One is making sure that you are adding value in the here and now and that you are solving real business questions. The second is to simultaneously invest in the infrastructure, i.e. the plumbing, to reimagine the digital and data ecosystem for the organization’s long-term sustainability.

For full interview chapter of Krishna and other digital leaders, please read the book.