Salesforce’s former chief trust officer joins Atlassian, adding to the growing ranks of veteran CTrOs

Vikram Rao says growing the talent pool of trust executives is high on his agenda.

​Vikram Rao says growing the talent pool of trust executives is high on his agenda. 

Last week I shared data on how the number of companies appointing chief trust officers (CTrO) is on the rise. Also ascendant: the number of veteran CTrOs, as Atlassian’s recent appointment of Vikram Rao testifies.

Rao was previously CTrO at Salesforce, the American software giant’s second such executive, and is now at Atlassian, replacing the Australian software giant’s inaugural CTrO, Adrian Ludwig. But the leading tech companies can’t just trade existing CTrOs. There needs to be more talent joining the pool.

“I feel like growing more chief trust officers is an objective for me,” Rao says. “It’s a very small community and we ought to grow it. The industry needs it.” Rao says he’s been involved in education work, helping develop potential future trust officers by upskilling workers in cybersecurity to make sure the area is “demystified” and “available to the masses.” 

Like many other CTrOs I’ve spoken with, Rao comes from a background in data security. Prior to his role as CTrO at Salesforce, Rao spent five years as a security engineer with the company, joining off of an 18-year stint as an engineer at Microsoft.

But, also like other CTrOs, Rao doesn’t believe there’s a one-size-fits all approach to managing trust in a business. The role of CTrO should grow, Rao believes, but the form it takes will be fluid as more sectors of the economy—industries, government, and NGOs—introduce the position.

For his own time as CTrO, Rao is not forthcoming about what he achieved at Salesforce or what that role looked like, besides saying he established a “trust first culture.” Looking to his new gig and what performing as CTrO might mean for Atlassian, Rao says he will ensure the company is “very transparent with our customers” and that its employees are “well equipped” with a knowledge about data security and privacy, so that they can conduct business with trust in mind.

The most interesting challenge, as with all CTrOs, is how to measure that performance. Rao says his key metrics are customer retention, growth, and overall risk management—the proactive measures companies put in place to protect customers from harm, rather than only responding to crises after they occur. As a measurable metric, risk management might involve documenting the number of security threats that occur over the year.

But “growth” seems to be the theme surrounding trust officers at the moment. Another vital metric for us all to watch over the next year will be how many more companies, organizations, and even political bodies start formalizing trust as an institutional objective.



The old men of EuropeThe first-ever Fortune 500 Europe went live this week, and the ranking busts quite a few myths about the continent, Fortune’s Peter Vanham writes. “The list of Europe’s largest companies by revenue reads like a kind of throwback to the 20th century, when energy and automotive industries dominated the global economy, and companies were led by men,” Vanham says.

WeWork collapsesWeWork has filed for bankruptcy, pledging to shed billions of dollars in real estate leases, threatening to upend commercial real estate businesses in major cities like New York. WeWork blames its downfall on a “historically rapid rise in interest rates” and a slower-than-expected return to office. But, Fortune reports, the notorious coworking startup has never reported a profitable quarter despite being about 13 years old and peaking at a whopping $47 billion valuation.

The joy of angerAnger is often shunned as a dangerous and disruptive emotion but, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Psychology, rage can actually be a strong motivator for work. Researchers at Texas A&M University found anger helped test subjects complete complex tasks at a rate 40% higher than the control group. Other emotions, like sadness, amusement, and arousal were less conducive. 

Taylor’s beatBryan West, a 35-year-old award-winning journalist, has landed one of the industry’s most coveted jobs: USA Today’s dedicated, full-time Taylor Swift correspondent. It’s not a joke gig. The now-billionaire superstar has become an economic powerhouse this year with her record-breaking Eras Tour and its movie offshoot. Swift’s impact was even noted in a Federal Reserve economic report, while analysts call the boost she gives to local economies the “TSwift Lift.”


“The world needs connection and self-love and confidence more than ever before…They have low self-esteem, they have low confidence, they don’t love themselves. If you think about chipping away at that, the [total addressable market] not only grows exponentially but the impact on the planet becomes transformational.”

I think there’s something bleakly dystopian about billing people with low-self worth as an addressable market for an app, but that’s where outgoing Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd sees the future for her dating app, as she transitions to the business’s executive chair position. (Read the full story in Fortune.) There is a loneliness epidemic in the U.S. that has grown despite the rise of dating apps, and the surgeon general warns that spending too much time on our devices is part of the problem. I doubt gamifying self-love will be the answer.

Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up for free.


Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *