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Hello, I’m Arlin Tao

Senior Director, IDEO Shanghai

Arlin is a Senior Director of Business Operations and New Ventures at IDEO. She is a member of the leadership team in China and is responsible for designing, building and evolving business systems and organizational infrastructures to enable teams to create disproportionate impact.

Sitting at the intersection of design, strategy and operations, Arlin is passionate about designing conditions that unlock the creative potential in people so that organizations can build its “creative competitiveness” and continuously innovate in an increasingly complex and dynamic world. As a leader at IDEO, Arlin has led multiple initiatives that enabled IDEO China to operate with speed while maintaining the nurturing conditions needed for creative talents.

With a background in social venture, Arlin also helps instigate and develop emerging ventures that push the edges of innovation for IDEO globally. She is a founding member of the Lead a Creative China, an award winning executive education program IDEO developed in collaboration with Tsinghua University, one of China’s top universities. It is China’s first year-long design thinking-centered, creative leadership program aimed at CEOs, Chairmen and founders.

Prior to joining IDEO, Arlin built and led the team at d.light that launched the world’s first, most affordable solar lantern. This breakthrough innovation provided clean and affordable energy for more than 7.5 million people in developing countries within the first 3 years. It won two Spark Design Awards, was honored by Core77 Awards, and gained accolades from President Barack Obama at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Before that, Arlin worked at Newell Rubbermaid, World Kitchen, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills in the US where her primary responsibility was to develop and bring product innovations to market and build brands.

Arlin is a sought after speaker in female leadership and scaling creativity within organizations. Her talk has been featured on prominent media outlets like Jiemian and Hexun. She is also a regular judge and mentor in the Hult Prize social innovation competition.

Arlin has lived and worked in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and traveled off the beaten path to 40 countries. She holds an MBA degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Northwestern University.