Making Your Business Case: Quantitative Data is an Essential Ally
Sales Productivity 02.23.2022

Making Your Business Case: Quantitative Data is an Essential Ally

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, the focus is on career success as anything but a straight line. For Utkalika Badu, Managing Vice President for Global Sales Strategy and Operations at Gartner®, the trajectory has been steep and often unexpected. She shares her journey from preconceived notions based on university classes to on-the-ground experiences that have shaped an entirely different conception of what it takes to be a successful leader. Along the way, she has picked up a wide range of skill sets, always prompted by curiosity and a willingness to stretch and take a risk. Utkalika offers advice to would-be leaders on their ascent and uses lessons from sports as a great metaphor for business success through collaboration and team building. You’ll also enjoy some evergreen book recommendations!

About the Guest 

Utkalika Badu has been with Gartner® for over 10 years. She has had the opportunity to take on multiple roles in the firm, including leading their financial services research teams, quantitative analytics, data science function, and other research practices. She leads Gartner®’s Global Sales Strategy & Operations team in her current role.

Connect with Utkalika Badu

Key Takeaways

  • Thoughts on key questions aspiring executives should consider when assessing their leadership and interpersonal style.
  • About the power of sports as a framework for leaders to build teams, foster collaboration, and bring together an assemblage of individuals willing to contribute their own particular strength to the greater goal of winning.
  • The case for quantitative skills and their application across the enterprise.
  • Utkalika’s journey has been colored by the huge variety of disciplines and know-how she has acquired at each stop along the way.
  • Why a support system – friends, family, and professional colleagues are vital to success.
  • Highlights the core competencies for assembling teams.


“Look outside your comfort zone, outside your safe space to learn about yourself … That’s how you make your journey exciting, interesting, and very rich.”

Highlights From the Episode

About Utkalika’s professional journey and some of the things, she has learned.

Utkalika has leveraged multiple degrees in a variety of roles. She focused initially on banking and insurance as a senior analyst at Evalueserve before becoming head financial services analyst at Oracle. Over the past decade, she has combined a passion for technology with a talent for analysis. Moving through a series of challenging and diverse roles at Gartner®, she is currently managing vice president for Global Sales Strategy and Operations. 

What does it take to be a leader in today’s world?

When you’re starting out, the definition of leadership can seem static or academic. But there are some elements common among effective leaders as well as great variability. Influenced both by culture and geography, she believes it’s important to self-identify: Are you authentic with your presentation? Do people relate to you naturally, or is it an effort to make connections? How are you articulating your thoughts and interacting with other leaders whose styles may differ? Are you tuned in to the lives and styles of those with whom you interact? Figuring out how to be most effective requires awareness of self and others and a willingness to mediate differences. 

What’s the role of sports and fitness in work and overall life?

Teamwork translates across all kinds of projects, assignments, and relationships. Have you given your best? Do you understand that success or failure depends on everyone contributing? Are you collaborative? Also, leadership excellence has to do with how you form your team and what constitutes a winning combination. It’s about getting the right mix of individuals, all of whom bring their own particular strengths. Similarly, keen leaders understand that establishing an infrastructure fosters team success. 

Why a quantitative approach applies across the enterprise?

If you didn’t open to the unexpected, you would never be introduced to the quantitative space. Even those in marketing and communications must embrace the reality that data and numbers are a permanent part of the landscape. Hard facts are critical to making a case, even in the analytical or qualitative realms. The math doesn’t have to be complicated, but everyone should incorporate quantitative elements regardless of discipline. 

The role of luck and curiosity in shaping career

Luck isn’t simply about being at the right place at the right time. It’s also a question of stamina and hunger. Repeatedly taking leaps of faith throughout the career – even accepting positions felt like a stretch for the skill set. If you don’t have the courage, you would never have ascended through the ranks or been offered the chance to get involved with sales at a high level. 

Along the way, Utkalika has acquired a broad base of knowledge that’s applicable in many leadership roles: team building, identifying talent, scaling operations, working with sales organizations versus product or research spaces. If you know, you’re strong enough to make the switch and have the competencies required, go for it!

Why is having a support system critical to leadership success?

Beyond the warmth and encouragement, you might receive from family and friends; it’s also enormously important to have a network of colleagues and mentors. They will not only provide direction and cheer you on but also offer up insights when challenges arise. It’s essential to have a bench of strong individuals willing to deliver the news you might not like but need to hear in order to shift your mindset and improve as a person. 

How to assemble the right team and talent?

Wish there was a straightforward formula for creating the perfect mix of talent, but none exists. It relies on having a good sense of what the job requires, setting expectations, looking at the horizon, and ensuring that the right core competencies are in place. Attitude, problem-solving, communication, openness, resourcefulness – these all factor into hiring the right team members. Just because someone hasn’t done it before doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t capable of taking the leap. That’s part of the discernment process.

What are prospective employees looking for?

Pandemic has emboldened prospective employees to look for not only a well-suited job but one that offers an equally solid cultural fit. People want to know how organizations will provide support and foster flexibility. Does your company offer generous benefits and ensure that the work is meaningful? In the wake of Covid19, there’s increased concern about social impact and a corporate commitment to inclusivity and making space for individuals to bring their most authentic selves to work. There has been a drastic shift in that candidates are interviewing hiring managers at the same time that they’re being interviewed by hiring managers. They’re looking for a match as much as you’re looking for a match.

Recommended Reading/Resources




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