Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. has named Raj Rao as CEO of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary of the company working to design, build, grow, and invest in new mobility services.
As CEO, Rao will lead the creation and growth of Ford Smart Mobility’s City Solutions business, Chariot shuttle, and the Greenfield Labs incubator. He will report to Jim Hackett, chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, and be based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Rao has led business operations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America, and has worked for iGATE Capital, Brunswick Corp., and, most recently, 3M. As the vice president of digital business model innovation at 3M, he led the company’s Silicon Valley digital hub and Internet-of-Things projects, based in Redwood City.
Prior to 3M, Rao led the international operations of Life Fitness as part of Brunswick Corp.’s leadership team. He also co-created Redberri, an open source XML-based middleware system, and secured several patents for Vivo, a wireless fitness management product.
“I have spent the better part of my career unleashing the power that exists globally with ecommerce, connected devices, and digitization,” Rao says. “The opportunity now to apply that experience and passion for innovation to helping Ford change the way the world moves is the perfect culmination.”
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.
Ford Smart Mobility is part of Ford’s expanded business model to be both an automotive and a mobility company. The subsidiary, which is designed to compete like a startup company, is working with Ford’s product development, research and advanced engineering, marketing, and data analytics teams to develop commercially ready mobility services and invest in mobility-related ventures.