“Transformations don’t take weeks. They take months, years. You’ve got to celebrate the little wins every day. Otherwise, this is a hard role.”
Raji Arasu’s motto is “make new mistakes and learn fast everyday.” That learning mindset has propelled the Indian-born Arasu into the top ranks of tech, with leadership roles at companies like Intuit, StubHub, eBay and Oracle. As chief technology officer of software giant Autodesk, she’s helping to harness the talent and technologies to let clients design more sustainable, connected and compelling products — from net-zero carbon buildings to Web3 entertainment.
“In technology, in leadership, you’re never done learning,” she says. “Transformations don’t take weeks. They take months, years. You’ve got to celebrate the little wins every day. Otherwise, this is a hard role.”
Arasu, who was recently named to Forbes 2022 CEO Next list of leaders likely to lead some of America’s largest companies, sat down to talk about her career, her company and what’s on her radar.
Arasu started out wanting to be a doctor — “watching people do open-heart surgery … saving people’s lives; it fascinated me” — but she ended up studying computer engineering at Pune University in India when that didn’t work out. Soon after starting her career at Rolta in India, she moved Silicon Valley, where she rapidly moved up the tech ladder.
“As you go through this process, it starts getting lonelier. Things get harder and need more investment of time,” says Arasu, who advises those who want to move into leadership roles to seek out an executive coach, as well as mentors and sponsors. She credits several former colleagues as instrumental in helping her grow as a leader. Among them: Nike CEO John Donahoe, PayPal CTO Sri Shivananda, Kaleidescape CEO Tayloe Stansbury, former eBay CTO Mark Carges and Lorrie Norrington, former eBay President who’s now operating partner at Lead Edge Capital.
What’s on her mind these days is figuring out how to keep up the pace of innovation amid new ways of working, the practical applications of the metaverse and digitization, and using technology to accelerate outcomes in sustainability. That means not only doing proprietary research internally but also “working with industry experts and academy experts across the world to understand what are the patterns, what do we see and what do we prepare for.” Click on the video above to hear more.