C.H. Robinson COO Arun Rajan Becomes CSIO

Unusual C-Suite Move to Help Jump-Start Strategic Planning, Tech Innovation
Arun Rajan
Arun Rajan is becoming chief strategy and innovation officer at C.H. Robinson. (C.H. Robinson)

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In an atypical move, C.H. Robinson’s chief operating officer — its No. 2 — is becoming its chief strategy and innovation officer.

The reasoning? C.H. Robinson has leveraged its investments in technology and innovation to become one of the world’s largest third-party logistics firms. But to keep its place near the top of the logistics industry, the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based company must maintain a strategic focus on innovation and continually improving technology.

So as Dave Bozeman finishes his first year as CEO, Arun Rajan, the COO turned CSIO, views his role as a disruptor, constantly looking for new ways to solve problems.

“There’s potential to disrupt every industry, and my entire career has been spent with disruptors,” Rajan said. “I find myself in a unique position now to disrupt within an incumbent using all the learnings and strategies that I have honed during my time with disruptors.”

Dave Bozeman


Rajan joined C.H. Robinson in 2021 as chief product officer after executive roles at Whole Foods Market and Zappos while both were owned by Amazon.

When Rajan became COO in 2022, he began solidifying the foundation of the company and aligning its business goals with digital investments. Now in his new role, he’s ready to take some of Robinson’s digital operating structures and integrate them into the company’s core operations. The right mix of automation and technology, he said, will make transactions more efficient.

“When I joined C.H. Robinson a few years ago, I knew the industry was in the midst of transformation, with so much potential for innovation,” he said. “It’s very similar to the journey of several consumer-facing companies that I’ve been part of, since the advent of the internet, where these companies materially changed the customer experience and disrupted the status quo.”

C.H. Robinson ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies in North America.

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rajan, edited for length and clarity.

Q: What are the reasons for changing your title and focus at C.H. Robinson?

A: It shows that we’re at a critical point in our journey of transformation, where we can take our amazing people and unique value proposition to the next level. We want to be fit, fast and focused in everything we do, and that’s what this role is all about.


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As C.H. Robinson adopts its new operating model that brings more accountability, discipline and collaboration across divisions as One Robinson, I will help advance the operating model and make sure we achieve our strategic goals faster. And deliver the kind of innovations and capabilities our customers are looking for to navigate an increasingly complex global supply chain.

The change frees me up to focus on accelerating strategy and innovation to drive the company and the industry forward.

In the new role, I am really looking forward to leading the strategy process, operating mechanisms to track our progress and implementation of strategic initiatives, and accelerating progress towards our strategic goals. I’ll also be responsible for driving research and analysis to inform major company decisions related to portfolio, mergers and acquisitions and organizational transformation — all of this to speed up the strategic path that we are on.

Q: What metrics will you be using to gauge success?

A: Our enterprise strategy has clear goals, initiatives and metrics to gauge success — our focus has always been, and will always be, delivering exceptional service and value for our stakeholders and being a great place to work.

We will continue measuring our productivity improvements by how many shipments we can handle per person per day, profitable growth by how we optimize volume growth and margin, and, most importantly, our customer satisfaction scores.

Behind each of these metrics, such as productivity, volume growth and margin growth, we have inputs that help us achieve the desired outputs. For example, to improve our productivity, we use technology to reduce the number of manual touches in every step of the logistics order life cycle like price quoting, order entry, carrier booking, pickup and dropoff appointments and so on. This makes us more efficient, more responsive to the changing needs of customers, carriers and a dynamic freight marketplace, and lets our people focus on higher value work.

What will change with my new focus is the speed at which we will make progress in improving these metrics. Part of that comes from more rigor as we continue to deploy our new operating model, which includes lean methodology (which CEO Bozeman specializes in) that brings continuous improvement, accountability and metric-tracking across the organization.

Q: What areas will you be focusing on?

A: We’re diving into some exciting new opportunities in supply chain and logistics, thanks to Generative AI. We’ve already rolled out some new tech that our team and customers are loving. Gen AI is a game-changer — it handles mundane, repetitive stuff that was difficult to automate in the past. For example, it is able to process and respond to unstructured quote requests via email in the same way that one of our people would. We are able to train it on unique customer needs and integrate it with our core machine learning, dynamic pricing and revenue management systems. It’s a win-win for everyone — our customers get better service, and our team can skip the mundane tasks and tackle more interesting challenges to help customers navigate increasingly complex supply chains. Plus, it means we can give our customers quick, consistent and spot-on answers every time, around the clock.

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Looking ahead, we’ve got a bunch of innovations coming up that’ll make our digital brokerage, dynamic pricing and revenue management even smarter, all thanks to our science, machine learning and GenAI know-how.

Q: How long before you anticipate seeing results?

A: We are already seeing results that make our work better and more exciting for our teams. The digital investments we’ve made over the past two to three years, that are now maturing, are delivering robust results. For example, our investments to reduce manual touches and improve productivity are delivering measurable results. Last year, we upped our productivity by 17%, and we’re on track for a 15% boost this year, with even more gains on the horizon for 2025.

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