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Saurabh Sardana

Saurabh Sardana: Converting Data into Compelling Narratives

Reviving Numbers Through Data Storytelling and Analytics!

In the digital age, we find ourselves immersed in an unprecedented sea of data. Every click, purchase, social media post, and sensor reading generates a data point. As a result, we are now submerged in an ocean of data, with petabytes and exabytes becoming common units of measurement. While this data holds valuable insights, trends, and patterns, it often exists in a raw, unstructured form that can be overwhelming to interpret.

This is where the art of data-driven storytelling takes center stage as a powerful tool, enabling organizations and individuals to convey complex information, inspire action, and drive change. Data, regardless of its vastness or comprehensiveness, lacks the inherent ability to engage and motivate on its own. Take climate change data, for instance. Raw data on rising global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions can be overwhelming and abstract. But when interwoven with human stories of communities affected by extreme weather events or individuals taking sustainable actions, the data transforms. It becomes a compelling call to action, an urgent narrative that demands attention.

Allow me to introduce Saurabh Sardana, the visionary Founder and Managing Partner of Urooj Insights, on a mission to redefine the way we perceive and interact with data. Saurabh’s core purpose of storytelling, deeply rooted in his background in performing arts, takes center stage as a powerful tool.

Saurabh’s journey began with a vision, one that addressed a critical gap in today’s data-driven landscape. In an era where data is abundant, the rise of “Information overload” has led to decision fatigue—a state where stakeholders struggle to meaningfully connect with the deluge of information presented in conventional formats.

It was this pressing need to make data both meaningful and engaging that gave birth to Urooj Insights. Saurabh recognized that data had the potential to tell stories, to breathe life into numbers, and to captivate audiences in ways never explored before. Urooj Insights, under his leadership, set out to merge the art of storytelling with the precision of analytics, creating a novel approach to data interpretation.

At Urooj, the mission goes beyond merely presenting data; it’s about reimagining data. Saurabh and his team are trailblazers in the world of data-driven storytelling, where raw statistics evolve into captivating narratives that resonate with individuals and organizations alike.

Saurabh’s vision isn’t just about transforming data; it’s about empowering decision-makers. Through Urooj Insights, he equips leaders, businesses, and organizations with the tools to decipher complex data landscapes, facilitating more informed and strategic choices. He generously shares the formats and frameworks with the larger marketing community, making them available on Urooj’s corporate website,

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Could you please tell about yourself and what motivated you to embark on this sector?

I founded Urooj to address a glaring gap in the market. In today’s world, we are inundated with data, leading to what behavioral economists call “information overload.” This phenomenon often results in decision fatigue, where stakeholders find it increasingly difficult to engage meaningfully with data presented in traditional formats. We wanted to tackle this issue head-on by merging storytelling techniques with analytics. Our mission is to make data not just meaningful but also engaging, breathing life back into numbers.

Could you please brief about your company and its inception story?

Before founding Urooj Insights, a APAC insights firm, I had the privilege of scaling various departments within billion-dollar conglomerates as well as SMEs across the Asia Pacific region. The invaluable knowledge I gained during this time allowed me to understand both the benefits and challenges of scaling a business. While rapid growth or “blitzscaling” is often celebrated, it comes with its own set of challenges. At Urooj, we are better equipped to manage growth sustainably, without compromising our core purpose: to make stories that inspire, influence, and impact.

How would you define effective leadership in the business world, and can you share an example of a challenging leadership situation you have faced and how you handled it?

Effective leadership only flourishes in the right culture. At Urooj, we place a special emphasis on nurturing a corporate culture where everyone is valued for their unique contributions. We strive to create an environment that balances learning and fun, allowing leadership to thrive naturally.

Our guiding philosophy is built on three Es:

  • Exponential: We approach everything with a mindset of limitless possibilities, encouraging this way of thinking in our daily operations.
  • Experiential: In a competitive market, businesses that offer memorable customer experiences stand out. We aim to be memorable not just for our brand name but for the value we bring to our clients.
  • Exceptional: We strive to be unique in everything we do, pushing the boundaries of conventional wisdom and injecting creativity into our processes.

What strategies do you employ to foster a positive and productive work culture within your organization?

Work culture is a cyclical topic that requires a balanced approach. We believe that everyone should feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for the place where they spend most of their time. To maintain this balance, we employ Socrates’ Triple Filter Test for all internal communications:

  1. Truth: Is the information factually accurate?
  2. Good: Does it benefit the individual or the collective?
  3. Necessary: Is the information useful or actionable?

This approach helps us avoid unproductive discussions and keeps everyone aligned with the company’s values.

How do you approach decision-making and problem-solving in your role as a business leader, and can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult business decision and how you navigated the process?

For us, decision-making in a leadership role is akin to conducting an orchestra; not every instrument plays at the same volume or pitch at all times. Creating a harmonious symphony requires balancing market demands, employee well-being, and the innovative solutions we offer. Each element has its own weight and importance, and the challenge lies in striking the right chord to produce a melody that resonates with all stakeholders.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments, and what steps do you take to ensure effective communication within your team and across departments?

In today’s consulting domain, staying abreast of technological advancements isn’t merely a choice—it’s a mandate. To ensure we remain at the cutting edge, I’m perpetually immersed in new technologies, monitoring their trajectory with precision. Our approach is clear: We first integrate the latest technologies into our operations, understanding their nuances and identifying optimal tech stacks. Then, combining several of these solutions, we deliver comprehensive, seamless offerings to solve our clients’ complex marketing problems. As a result, today we punch above our weight and go well beyond traditional research methods. Internally, structured communication isn’t just routine—it’s a weekly ritual. Through scheduled team gatherings, cross-team collaborations, and routine updates, we ensure our teams are not merely informed but are also attuned to the industry’s fluctuating pulse.

Can you share a successful business initiative or project that you have led from concept to completion?

Over the past two decades of my career, I’ve often observed a notable misalignment between researchers and technologists. At Urooj Insights, however, we’ve tackled this issue head-on. Our researchers possess a deep understanding of technology, while our technologists have a strong background in research. I take a keen interest in our InfoLytics platform, remaining hands-on and ensuring its continual refinement to better serve our clients.

Our AI engine formulates tailored questions and offers expansive visualization capabilities. This saves time and boosts efficiency, allowing us to focus on addressing the more substantial business challenges that our clients face.

A distinctive element of our approach is that, while many firms structure their process like an assembly line — with question writers, scripters, project managers, data processors, client servicing professionals and report writers all being separate individuals — we adhere to what could be termed the ‘Unified Expert Principle.’ Our integrated platform allows us to maintain seamless consistency and eliminate information discrepancies, ensuring we consistently deliver the highest quality of work.

How do you motivate and inspire your team to achieve their goals and perform at their best, and what are your strategies for managing and resolving conflicts within the workplace?

Motivation and inspiration, in my perspective, stem from a deep sense of purpose coupled with an invigorating work environment. Our tasks inherently pose captivating challenges, turning every project into an exhilarating journey.

As a modern-day employer, we infuse our ethos with a dynamic, fresh perspective, making Urooj Insights a sought-after workspace for the vibrant and ambitious youth.

Our recruitment is meticulous; we ensure that only those aligned with our core values and driven by passion join our ranks. Furthermore, our governance model strikes the right balance: it provides direction while bestowing our team with the freedom, resources, and continuous learning they deserve.

When it comes to conflict resolution, our commitment lies in transparent dealings. Our inclusive ethos and open-door approach guarantee every team member feels heard and valued. While conflicts are inherent in any workspace, we approach them as avenues for evolution, endorsing candid discussions and mediation to reach holistic, equitable resolutions. I also firmly believe that a lax attitude from founders or leadership towards such pivotal issues can disrupt a work culture. As founders, we must always remember the guiding principle: prioritize people before profits. It’s a commitment I steadfastly maintain and never take for granted.

How do you foster innovation and creativity within your organization, and how do you measure success and track progress in your role as a business leader?

At Urooj, innovation is not just an added value—it’s an expectation, reflecting our ethos of blending creativity with systematic thinking. A glance at our current work mix attests to our drive to pioneer fresh strategies.

I also firmly believe that this dedication to continuous improvement and redefining the status quo is why our clientele keeps returning. Recently, for a study, our teams led the charge in using advanced language models, applying AI not just as a research tool, but as a catalyst for formulating impactful marketing narratives.

Personally, for me, success is a multidimensional subject. While financial milestones are essential to keep the business running, the happiness of our team, the loyalty of our clients, and our contributions to the larger community are of equal significance. We pride ourselves on a multifaceted approach to gauging our impact, encompassing every angle of our operations.

Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.

Stakeholders and the media have taken notice of our endeavors, suggesting we’re on the right path. We sincerely thank you for your time and interest in our journey and accomplishments.

I’m honored to have been named the “Asia’s Most Admired Marketer of 2023.” In the marketing realm, professionals in consumer insights and consulting, like us, often operate in the background, supporting core marketing and branding teams with vital analytics and insights. While our methods of knowledge transfer may be underplayed, their profound impact cannot be overlooked. This award is a testament to the significance of our contributions over the past year. It reinforces our commitment, quality, and innovative spirit as we address marketing challenges and boldly tackle significant business inquiries.

Earlier, I also received the title of “Most Influential Researcher” from the World Marketing Congress. These awards are a big nod to our efforts and push us to keep aiming higher in our industry.