Financial executive Rao Chalasani most recently served as chief technology officer and risk strategy director with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York City, NY. During his time with the firm, Rao Chalasani invented a US patent pending “Enterprise Risk Management System.”
A strategic business discipline designed to evaluate and manage firmwide risk, enterprise risk management (ERM) also looks at the combined impact of risk in an aggregated risk portfolio.
Unlike more traditional approaches to risk management, ERM looks at the totality of risk rather than individual “silos” of seemingly unrelated risk. As a result, ERM involves all aspects of organizational risk, from compliance and governance to financial and reputational risk.
In practice, ERM collects risk information from internal and external environments, using it to develop structured risk management processes. Because many business leaders see ERM as a way to gain a competitive advantage, risk management often plays a central role in key decisions at all levels of the business organization.
New Jersey resident Rao Chalasani has been working in financial risk management since 1994. During his time at the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York, NY, Rao Chalasani invented the US patent-pending Enterprise Risk Management System.
This system can be used by many different kinds of organizations. Unlike other forms of risk management, the Enterprise Risk Management System is implemented to assess risk across several areas of exposure, including financial, reporting, governance, operational, and strategic risk.
With the help of computer technology and extensive databases, organizations can view risks as interrelated rather than in separate categories and view them in regard to both short-term and long-term risk. Through this global understanding of risk, the framework can help an organization work at their most productive capacity.
Enterprise Risk Management System is currently in use at financial organizations all over the world, including the global Fortune 500 company Azco Nobel in the the Netherlands; Panasonic in Japan, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronics; and Harrah’s Entertainment in the US, the world’s largest branded casino entertainment provider.
Rao Chalasani has built his career on a foundation of technology and development risk management strategies. A resident of New Jersey, he has worked at mega corporations in New York, NY, such as Bank of America (BofA), JPMorgan Chase, and Merrill Lynch. At Merrill Lynch, Rao Chalasani served as risk management strategist and chief technology officer (CTO).
On the surface, the role of a CTO seems simple: choose and implement technologies that facilitate success for a company. Below the surface, however, the specifics run a gamut of responsibilities. A CTO may be able to choose a third-party solution for the company, such as a database program to keep track of customer accounts and inventory. When such solutions do not exist, or when existing solutions do not provide the functionality the company needs, CTOs must lead the research and development (R&D) of a proprietary solution. In either case, CTOs need to adhere to standards and regulations.
CTOs must also be aware of tech trends and news that could affect the company’s bottom line. Toward that end, CTOs must monitor and evaluate emerging technology in order to determine if it should be brought into the fold, or passed over in favor of other products. CTOs communicate their decisions to their managers, as well as to partners, investors, and employees.
A former chief technology officer and risk strategist for Bank of America (BOFA) and the Merrill Lynch New York office, Rao Chalasani specialized in global markets. In addition to providing New York and New Jersey-based businesses with insight into risk management and other concerns, Rao Chalasani supports a number of charities, including the Sankara Eye Foundation.
Based in Milpitas, California, the Sankara Eye Foundation provides eye care for patients in India. It currently operates in eight hospitals throughout the country. Through fundraisers and individual donations, it has provided free surgeries to over 140,000 patients. Its mission is to eliminate curable blindness in India by 2020.
According to the foundation, India has the highest instance of blindness — one-fourth of the world’s blind live there. While 45 million Indians have visual impairment and 12 million are completely blind, 80 percent can be cured. With public support, the Sankara Eye Foundation hopes to stanch India’s blindness epidemic, one patient at a time.
The former director of trading risk at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York, Rao Chalasani led design strategy and developed global markets in that role. In September of 2001, a CNN interviewer spoke to Rao Chalasani about his missing sister.
In the days and weeks after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11, loved ones searched for their family members and friends who were in the towers during the attacks. The cable news channel CNN set up a website for searching individuals to post pictures of those missing loved ones.
Sixteen days after the attacks, CNN featured Swarna Chalasani, a woman who worked at Fiduciary Trust on the 94th floor of Tower Two in the World Trade Center. Her brother described Swarna as a woman committed to her family, her friends, and her work. Only 33 years old, she excelled in her career and volunteered a great deal of personal time to Sakhi, an organization that serves South Asian women victimized by domestic violence.
The young woman’s brother offered prayers for all those who experienced loss on that terrible day. He expressed his deep regret that he was unable to communicate with his sister in those dark hours.
The Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), using a series of models, helps guide an organization through the process of moving its technology systems toward its overall objectives. MSF has five main phases, which are envisioning, planning, developing, stabilizing, and deploying. Its structured approach to project management helps a supervisor keep team members on target.
In the MSF model, team members are generally considered equal peers during the project. No member is designated the “boss.” The overall manager does divide the project and assign certain tasks to each member. This prevents important project parts from being left out. It also allows every team member to know his or her responsibilities without constant reminders. The MSF model can be adapted to teams both large and small. These features, combined with definite milestones, help move projects toward their successful completion.
Rao Chalasani is a risk management professional and programmer with over 20 years of experience in the financial industry. Currently residing in New Jersey, Rao Chalasani developed his expertise working with major New York banks such as Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.
Sakhi for South Asian Women is a charitable organization in the NY metropolitan area that helps women dealing with domestic abuse in the South Asian community. Founded in 1989, Sakhi’s mission is to offer information, family support services, and legal assistance to those in need. The organization mobilizes the South Asian community and all people in the New Jersey and New York area in order to identify and condemn the abusers and underlying problems that lead to domestic abuse.
In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund (SCEEF) was created in collaboration with Sakhi to provide scholarships to women who are struggling economically and socially. Since 2003, the SCEEF has disbursed thousands of dollars in grants and scholarships to qualified candidates for continuing education and vocational training.
About the Author
Rao Chalasani is a senior technology executive at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. He founded the SCEEF in honor of his late sister Swarna, who perished in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.