C-SUITE

Amazon vet to aid Walmart tech transformation

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart’s new CTO has an impressive resume that includes stints at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM.

The discount titan has appointed Suresh Kumar to a new elevated CTO and chief development officer role, reporting directly to president and CEO Doug McMillon. Kumar joins Walmart at a time when the company is rapidly transforming its customer and associate experiences.

Kumar brings more than 25 years of technology leadership experience, most recently serving as Google’s VP and GM of display, video, app ads, and analytics. Prior to Google, he was the corporate VP of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure and operations.

In addition, Kumar spent 15 years at Amazon in various leadership roles, including VP of technology for retail systems and operations, as well as leading Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems. Before Amazon, he was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

Walmart will likely expect Kumar to apply his expertise to transformative efforts such as free next-day delivery (with a minimum online order of $35) on 220,000 of its most popular items, and its “Intelligent Retail Lab,” a leading-edge store model that uses artificial intelligence solutions to improve the customer experience and empower associates. Kumar also has background in advertising, which should come in handy given Walmart’s recent purchase of digital advertising startup Polymorph Labs.

“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible. We want to take full advantage of those opportunities,” said McMillon. “Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”

Kumar holds a PhD in Engineering from Princeton University, and a bachelor of technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today, it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation,” said Kumar. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth e-commerce business and more than two million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”

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