Raj Rao

Raj Rao
Global Director, Digital Marketing and Commerce, 3M

Education: Master’s in Management, Boston University
What I’m Reading: What Matters Now by Gary Hamel
My Philosophy: Imagination is at the root of creativity
Interests: Cloud computing, social blogs, diffused innovation networks
Company Headquarters: St. Paul, Minnesota
Website: www.3m.com
Primary Business: Diversified manufacturer
Annual Revenues: $31 billion

How do you think Asian Americans have evolved in terms of industry/field diversity?
Asian Americans are at the very forefront of the innovations in digital sphere. Thought leaders like Avinash Kaushik (Google), Harshad Desai (QLogic), Gary Tamoya (Boeing Integrated systems), Jawed Karim (Youtube founder) and Victor Tsao (Linksys founder) are in pivotal positions to drive further innovations in the high tech and connectivity industries. Their influence in the Valley is profound, and VCs are significantly invested in technologies that are shaped by their thinking.

“Mastery of every situation, focus on self effort and respect for experienced leaders are cornerstones of my Asian heritage. This has helped me attract highly valuable talent, overcome adverse situations with rigid thinkers, and helped me stay ahead of my peers in the digital economy.”

What do you think is the greatest issue or dilemma facing the Asian/Pacific-American community today?
The balancing of Western capitalist structures and performance measurement systems with Eastern values of equality for all and sustainable progress. Increasingly, the Asian Americans will be placed in global leadership roles where there have to make tradeoff decisions on short term financial results vs. long term sustainable progress.

What advice would you give the next generation of Asian/Pacific-American business leaders? What are some tips for other Asian/Pacific Americans beginning their careers?
First, travel East frequently and experience first-hand the power of the mass markets in emerging Asia that is reshaping the concept of the local/frugal innovation. Second, career building is all about networking, connecting at a deep and personal level with people you can identify with and possessing a diverse rolodex of people from all walks of life and ethnicities. Finally, you live in a highly interconnected real-time world, and the superficial differences of creed, gender and ethnicity will give way to thought leadership and execution/”get stuff done” capability. Your career will be hugely influenced by who you know, and where they are connected.