Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced that it has hired former Google, Microsoft and Amazon veteran Suresh Kumar in their newly created position of chief technology officer and chief development officer — a role that will report directly to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
The CTO position was previously held by Jeremy King, who departed the retailer in March to become Pinterest’s head of engineering.
With more than 25 years of technology experience, Kumar is a ‘big asset’, as he has deep experience in retail, e-commerce, advertising, cloud and machine learning, the retailer says.
More recently, the retail giant been positioning itself as a tech company. Former CTO King pointed to Walmart’s use of technology like VR headsets and machine-learning powered robots at this year’s SXSW, explaining that Walmart was building a tech organization but struggles with its perception as being just a warehouse-like store known for low prices.
Who is Suresh Kumar?
Kumar most recently worked at Google, where he served for more than a year as VP and general manager of display, video, app ads and analytics. Prior to that, he was corporate vice president of Cloud Infrastructure and Operations at Microsoft for three and a half years.
The experience that likely appeals the most to Walmart is Kumar’s 15 years in a variety of positions at Amazon, most recently as VP, Worldwide Retail Systems and Retail Services. He has also led Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems.
Earlier in his career, Kumar was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He holds a PhD in engineering from Princeton and a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Under Kumar, Walmart aims to bring together its four technology organizations — Global Business Services, Walmart Labs, Sam’s Club Technology and International technology, the retailer says.
As Global CDO, he will lead the team in building systems to digitally transform Walmart’s business operations, including the use of Walmart’s data to deliver a competitive advantage.
The hire comes at a time when Walmart and Amazon are battling head-to-head across a number of fronts, including e-commerce, omnichannel, advertising, logistics, brick-and-mortar operations and even the cloud.
Kumar will begin his new role on July 8.