How Rent The Runway’s President Builds Operational Best Practices

Anushka Salinas serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Rent the Runway. She leads a team of tech, product, marketing and analytics employees to achieve the long-term vision of disrupting the $2.4 trillion fashion industry by becoming the starting point for circular fashion. Prior to RTR, she was at Lawrence Lenihan, and Joseph Ferrara, as an early leader at Resonance, a venture operating company that invests in and operates early-stage fashion brands. Here she shares best practices for running a smooth operation.

How would you describe your role in relation to RTR's CEO, Jennifer Hyman?

Jen, the CEO and co-founder who runs the business, is a true visionary. She sees into the future and knows what consumers will want and need. A discontinuous thinker is the way I like to describe her. I'm more of a continuous thinker, although I've learned a lot by working alongside her for many years. We have sort of a yin yang relationship where she's the one who dreams the big dreams, and I'm the one who makes them happen.

How has your role evolved over the last four years?

It's changed significantly. I started early on at the company, and Rent the Runway had, and still has, an ambitious business model. As an early-stage employee, I got the pleasure and the benefit of being involved in almost every area of the business. In the first four years that I spent at Rent the Runway, I touched a lot of different things that I had no experience in.

At RTR I learned about technology, production, supply chain and operations, and inventory management. I faced some unique challenges that I had never encountered before. That early experience, where I got to touch all these pieces of the business, teed me up for the role that I'm in today, many years later, overseeing the day-to-day operations.

What is the operational approach each of your departments at Rent the Runway employs to continue to drive scale?

We're a very data-driven, test and learn company at the core of who we are as a business. Whether it's the technology organization, consumer product organization, or supply chain operation, that is the commonality in our process.

We are also highly results-driven. Like many organizations, we use OKRs. It's a process that we’ve been refining over time. We use them diligently, so even though every group operates differently due to wildly different mandates, there's a commonality in the way we talk about our goals.

We're a very data-driven, test, and learn company at the core of who we are as a business.

How do you measure the effectiveness of the current operational processes?

The data, test and learn approach is critical. One small operational example to illustrate this is the fact that we've had an analytics team since the beginning. One of our first senior hires at the company was the head of analytics. He started the practice of collecting analytical insights, and 11 years later, we still do it. Every four weeks someone from the data team will present to a range of people across our company. It's a pretty technical presentation that goes into the team's methodology, how they approached the analysis and built the model, and what the results were.

Information sharing is also incredibly important. As an organization, we believe in sharing information across all the different groups even if it doesn't necessarily seem relevant on the surface. We also do things like hackathons where someone from a totally different team can help solve a problem in a separate department.