CX Collective

Member Spotlight

Q&A with Ananth Sarathy, General Manager Digital Experience, Woolworths Limited

The CX Collective is an incredible congregation of the region’s CX leaders, collectively transforming customer experiences. Each month, we’ll be profiling one of our esteemed members to shine a light on some of the extraordinary leadership in the Collective.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your career journey and how you came to be in a CX role?

A: I actually started my Cx journey wanting to be digitally focussed. I worked in Australia for a little while and just realised that digital and CX wasn’t huge 17 years ago. So I started a start-up called Wasabi TV and that was one of Australia’s first digital video start-ups around community TV and really bringing digital video to life. That’s where I really fell in love with customer experience, really understanding how customers use digital and how much it helped them in their day to day as well, but also just the joy of using a great digital product.

After that, I then went overseas to the UK and was lucky enough to work within digital product at Tesco grocery, launching Tesco website shopping to the UK and central Europe, and that was really really exciting. Then when I moved back here I was working through a whole bunch of different digital organisations across loyalty, Media and so on in the digital product and customer experience space.

When I made my move to Woolworths about 7 years ago, what really struck a cord was the focus on customer but also the real willingness to invest in digital which really resonated with me. If you ask me, being able to bring all the capabilities to life across user experience, product, customer journey mapping, digital analytics, operations and content, is a real honour and privilege, and I’m really excited to be able to do that.

Q: What do you love about your job?

A: There are two main things I love about the job. Firstly, working with a really great, talented, amazing set of individuals, both within my team and across Woolworths who are really passionate about bringing the customer experience to life and always doing right by the customer.

Then secondly, it’s just that focus on customer. Over the last couple of years we’ve really become so much more customer aware with what we’re doing at Woolworths and Woolies X as well, and being able to lead the digital experience and the digital aspects of how we bring that experience to life for our customers has just been amazing. The other thing that I love is the fact that we are really trying to make our customers’ lives easier whether that’s through making sure they have the right product information or nutritional information, or giving them the tools to make the shopping experience easier.

Q: What are you most excited about over the next 12 months?

A: The thing that really excites me is that it really feels like our customers are resonating with really engaging customer experiences within the digital landscape, especially within Food and complementary verticals. Prior to this year we started to build experiences for our customers and hoping they would take advantage of them and really value them, and they have and now they’re asking us for more. So I’m really excited about accelerating mobile, accelerating the use of digital in-store, and the use of digital in our customer’s lives.

Q: What unique challenges have you met and overcome in your current role?

A: Probably the first thing is moving from a practitioner role to a leadership type role. When you’re in that practitioner space, your really focused on making sure that you’ve got the right focus or the right capabilities to do the right thing. When you move into a leadership role, you really have a huge opportunity to expand the customer experience, and a big part of that is to build the right team and find those really talented people within that space to reach that goal. It’s been a real exciting challenge but also really rewarding as well.

The second thing I would say is that often when people move into those leadership roles it is a completely different dynamic, so just learning to lean on your softer skills as well as your technical skills has been a learning experience for me.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: There are probably two things here. Firstly put the customer at the centre of everything you do and be relentless, continuously do the right thing, and all the other key metrics around revenue, engagement and loyalty will follow.

The other was to really learn about what holds me back. There’s a thing called Imposter Syndrome which I think a lot of customer experience professionals experience. We’ve come from being an industry niche in the back office but now people are asking more and more about it. How do you really push yourself to those conversations?

Q: How do you continue to strive to put the customer at the centre of what you do?

A: When you’re starting your key forums with the broader team, how are you bringing the customer into the conversation or into the room, based on factual observation and removing that from opinion? So starting forums with qual/quant based customer insights is key; it removes any of the opinion and back and forth and so on. Also, making sure you have your voice of customer metrics right and are continually measuring and reviewing and optimising them as well. I think having the voice of the customer built into the organisation, the metrics and the KPIs are important. And investing in customer capability and investing in customer team members that can talk to those capabilities is key as well.

Q: What advice would you give to peers about being the best CX professional you can be?

A: The advice I’d give is never stop learning. I think there is so much to learn from engineering to user experience and design and product, and the only way you’re really going to be able to create experiences is to appreciate the other disciplines. Once you’ve got that, ensure that you’re making more informed decisions based on everything going on, not just within your specific verticals.

CX Collective Member

Ananth Sarathy

General Manager Digital Experience, Woolworths Limited



We bring people and ideas together,
the connection just happens.


Chris Waite

Head of Growth, Ashton Media

Ph: +61 424 453 172