2021 Honorees

Raji Behal

Head of Merchant Success, US

“My goal is to breed trust, respect, and transparency with my teams, so that everyone knows they have a seat at the table.”

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I’m currently the Head of Merchant Success at Klarna, the leading global payments provider and shopping service. I lead one of Klarna’s Merchant Success teams in the U.S., growing our largest and most strategic enterprise merchants and ensuring that their needs are being met. One of Klarna’s core values is customer obsession, so our merchants and their customers are our number one priority.

Before making the jump to fintech, I was at Macy’s for 13 years where I was most recently leading Leased Merchandising & New Business Development. It’s been a huge change, but it’s been such a great experience.

How would you describe yourself?

I am an extrovert who loves meeting new people, which has made the past year particularly challenging for me. While making sure I’m continuously learning and being challenged in anything I do is a must, my family and being a mother is also a big part of who I am, as they’re the ones I lean on and come home to at the end of the day. We have an almost 2-year-old son, and are expecting a baby girl in April!

I enjoy working out, as that keeps me grounded and sane during all the craziness that life brings along, and I look forward to doing all the things that we’ve missed out on the past year, like traveling, family and friends, and enjoying NYC as we used to.

What is your leadership style?

I am a true believer in servant leadership. I’ve certainly improved my leadership style over the years, but at this point in my career, I believe in listening to my team, giving them the tools they need to be successful, and empowering them to make decisions without much oversight from me. Ultimately, my goal is to breed trust, respect, and transparency with my teams, so that everyone knows and feels like they have a seat at the table, and that their voices matter.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

I used to say that my biggest professional success was becoming a Buyer before age 25 and then reaching the Vice President title by the time I was 30. In hindsight, I realize that titles aren’t a proxy for success and professional satisfaction.

Today, I would say my biggest success has been taking a leap of faith in Klarna – leaving a company and sector I knew and loved and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to a new space within fintech. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time at Klarna, and I believe my decision-making and “gut feel” have improved exponentially, given the speed at which we’re growing and needing to move.

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What goals do you have for 2021?

I am a type-A-obsessed planner, so I’m focused on being more flexible and “go with the flow” given all the big life changes I’ve recently experienced. They’ve taught me that things can happen when you least expect, so having the answer or plan for everything isn’t that important.

Perhaps because I haven’t been able to drink wine since summer, I’m also really interested in learning more about wine — I’m even toying with the idea of heading towards sommelier certification.

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

COVID has accelerated the rise of e-commerce and transformed customer behavior in a way no one could have imagined. A huge trend we are seeing in e-commerce right now is a continued rise of omnichannel services. With endless retail channels at their fingertips, today’s shoppers expect a seamless experience anytime, anywhere. I think we’ll continue to see a convergence of where and how people shop both online and in physical settings, leveraging new innovations like social shopping platforms, contactless payments and buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) services to drive more targeted, convenient and personalized experiences.

This transformation of how people are shopping and paying is also driving traction of alternative payment options like Klarna. Over the last year, we’ve seen unbelievable traction of our payment options among retailers – we now have over 6,000 retail partners in the US and more than 250,000 worldwide, including Macy’s, Etsy, Sephora, and Rebecca Minkoff. This momentum will continue as shoppers seek more flexible and convenient ways to pay.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

Avya Skincare is a brand I truly admire. During COVID, I haven’t been wearing much makeup but I am definitely prioritizing my skincare routine. Avya takes traditional Ayurvedic ingredients with medical-grade efficacy to concentrate and boost their natural healing powers, and I can’t live without their serum! In addition, they are a woman and founder-led company that truly focuses on giving back to their local communities and committed to contributing to social progress, especially for women and minorities.

What do you geek out over?

I geek out over and am constantly looking for simple things that make my life easier. Did you know that you can group tabs in G Suite and even color-code them so you know what’s actually open?! Or that you can control-F in Slack?!