Holding a bachelor of science in engineering from New York University’s Polytechnic Institute, Rao Chalasani has contributed his technical knowledge to such notable financial firms as JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of America (BofA). The New Jersey resident maintains a commitment to philanthropy, supporting charities such as Doctors Without Borders and Childreach. In 2002, Rao Chalasani partnered with Sakhi for South Asian Women, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence, to establish a scholarship in memory of his late sister, Swarna Chalasani.
Sakhi sponsors an Economic Empowerment Program to help survivors of domestic abuse achieve financial independence. The program helps prepare women for the workforce, offering ESL instruction, technology classes, and workshops on financial principles, entrepreneurship, and employee rights.
The Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund is included within the Economic Empowerment Program. Created to honor Ms. Chalasani’s dedication to Sakhi and the empowerment of domestic violence survivors, the fund helps women reach both their academic and professional goals. Sakhi distributes an average of 20 awards of up to $1,500 during two yearly grant cycles. These provide financial aid for educational and vocational expenses such as tuition, books, and certification or licensing fees. The women benefitting from this support have gone on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in fields including computer science, social work, and biomedical engineering.
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 digital nature of banking and investment transactions today means that risk managers (or risk strategists, as they are sometimes called) must possess fluency in technological systems that facilitate investment and trading. In addition to managing financial risk, a risk manager must identify and account for potential systemic threats. In other words, risk management involves a determination as to the risk level of certain loans and trades, as well as an analysis of potentially risky online and offline systems that allow those loans and trades to go through.
When working in international markets, the role of a risk manager becomes even more complex, as factors such as political instability, inflation, currency fluctuation, famine, and drought enter the picture and influence the viability of various financial transactions. Juggling these risks requires sound and far-reaching knowledge. Technological advances mean that risk managers may depend upon software to help them, but human instinct will likely always be a big part of the job.
About Rao Chalasani: A former Chief Financial Officer and Risk Strategist for Merrill Lynch and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Rao Chalasani has focused on global markets and credit, real estate, and structured products. Rao Chalasani is the sole designer and creator of the scalable “Enterprise Risk Management System,” for which a patent is pending.