In 2006, Robert Chatwani considered dropping out of his Creativity and Innovation Marketing class with Prof. Jennifer Aaker to focus on a personal endeavor. Chatwani’s close friend of South Asian descent, Sameer Bhatia, had been diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. However, there were so few South Asians on the donor registry that his chance of a match was 1 in 20,000. Chatwani and friends aimed to defy those odds by launching a national marrow registration drive. Aaker suggested that Chatwani capture lessons from the campaign and make it his final project for the class. Three months and 24,600 new registrants later, a match was found for Bhatia. Though Bhatia did not survive his transplant, his movement allowed over 250 patients to find donor matches.
“What Haas helped me understand is that business can be one of the most powerful forces of positive social change in the world,” says Chatwani, who spent 12 years with eBay, eventually becoming the company’s chief marketing officer for North America. While there, Chatwani spearheaded eBay’s collaboration with the late social entrepreneur Priya Haji, MBA 03, to launch the World of Good marketplace, enabling shoppers to buy socially responsible products from global producers.
Last year, Chatwani became CMO of Atlassian, a collaboration software company that aims to unleash the power of teams. Chatwani says that shifting from a B2C to a B2B marketing environment is a welcome challenge.
“The future of how work gets done within organizations is changing faster than ever,” says Chatwani. “Remarkable innovation often emerges when people are empowered to seamlessly collaborate.” Thanks to a formative experience at Haas, Chatwani’s entire career has been a testament to the possibilities inherent in empowering that human connection and potential. —NDK