Airbnb’s Head of Global Operations brings her passion, energy and international vision to tomorrow’s business leaders.
As a mentor to emerging companies such as kstart Incubator, Varsha Rao shares her experience and the skills, to help solidify the next generation of global entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Rao focuses on what she describes as three keys to leadership:
*Confidence: Believing in the product or service you propose, even if you are the first on the block and lack provable benchmarks.
*Communication skills: The ability to bring others into your vision, especially as an entrepreneur when you must sell your concept to funders and customers.
*Empathy: The capacity to connect with others—colleagues, funders, employees and customers.
An entrepreneur at her very core, Rao joined Airbnb after many years of success with web-focused companies. Her initial start-up was Eve.com, an e-commerce beauty product company that she co-founded with a close friend. Even though Eve.com far exceeded her expectations for growth, Vao feels that she and her partner could have benefited from early financial and professional support. For this reason, she makes the time to serve as mentor and advisor to emerging leaders around the world, coaching their development and advising on the tactical strategies of building a successful business.
Based in Bangalore, India, kstart is a unique program that is seeding the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. Its mission is to fund the bold and innovative ideas of passionate founders who are seeking to transform the world. It is a natural fit for Varsha Rao, whose bold vision and innovative approach to business growth is fueling her success at Airbnb.
Rao’s mentoring is not limited to new entrepreneurs. A strong proponent of early access to quality education, she assists organizations such as Breakthrough, a nonprofit that offers educational enrichment programs to disadvantaged elementary, middle and high school students throughout the year. Breakthrough helps kids prepare for college and to be successful in life.
Varsha Rao also takes time from her hectic travel schedule to speak at women’s conferences where she shares her experience and thoughts on the topics of leadership, networking, diversity, and the challenges facing women in the global community today.
As a highly educated and successful woman with a truly international career, Rao ultimately offers those she supports and mentors one of the most valuable forms of encouragement: a role model.