Rajendra “Raj” Rao is chief executive officer of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company formed to accelerate the company’s plans to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. He assumed the position effective Oct. 10, 2016. Ford Smart Mobility LLC is part of Ford’s expanded business model to be both an auto and a mobility company. The company is continuing to focus on and invest in its core business – designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing cars, SUVs, trucks and electrified vehicles. At the same time, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.
As CEO, Rao leads the creation and growth of Ford Smart Mobility LLC’s various businesses. This includes: the City Solutions business working with cities on expanding mobility services worldwide; Chariot, which is the cornerstone for Ford Smart Mobility LLC’s global shuttle services business, and Greenfield Labs, Ford Smart Mobility LLC’s business model incubator.
Before joining Ford Smart Mobility LLC, Rao served as the vice president of digital business model innovation at 3M. In this role, Rao led the company’s Silicon Valley digital hub and Internet of Things (IoT) projects based in Redwood City, California. He was in charge of developing new business models for the commercialization of customer solutions in the connectivity space with a special focus on smart cities, wearables and digital wellness. Rao also was responsible for championing ecosystem partnerships with Silicon Valley accelerators and IoT labs. Prior to 3M, Rao served in a variety of roles worldwide, working in and leading business operations in Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America for a number of companies. He led the international operations of Life Fitness as part of Brunswick Corporation and served as vice president of iGATE Capital after beginning his career as a financial analyst at Proctor & Gamble.
An accomplished innovator, Rao co-created Redberri, an open source XML-based middleware system for connecting systems not originally designed to talk to each other, and holds several patents for Vivo, a wireless fitness management product used widely in the industry.
A native of Bangalore, India, Rao has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Shri Ram College of Commerce at Delhi University and a master’s degree in management from Boston University.