PROFILE

Mohamed Amer

Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor

Living in Southern California, Mohamed is keen on applying his corporate and entrepreneurial executive leadership across strategy, technology, and communications in the service of progressive boards of directors, c-suites, and startup companies.

Building teams and driving results spanning multiple industry sectors and domains, Mohamed brings successful experience in public and private sectors across mission-critical operational, supply chain, strategy, communications, and technology roles.  He is a highly trusted coach and advisor for senior executives and entrepreneurs in the technology and consumer-facing industries.

During his tenure at SAP, Mohamed held several senior roles that included leading the solution footprint, M&A, and go-to-market strategy for the global grocery business, and developing the future supply chain product area for retail. While leading the Retail Business Unit in the Americas, he supported business development, key customer implementations, and strategic relationships as well as managing key user groups and executive customer councils. He also led internal and external communication roles across multiple sectors and most recently having responsibility for executive communications in SAP’s Office of the Co-Presidents.

Prior to SAP, Mohamed was co-founder and President of NEXstep, an Internet supply chain software startup which was acquired by Viewlocity.  He also held leadership positions in the retail management consultancy, Kurt Salmon Associates (acquired by Accenture) with extensive Retail and CPG client engagements as well as general management roles in the office products industry at Boise Cascade and Buhrmann-Tetterode.

Mohamed held a commission with the US Navy (Lieutenant Commander – naval aviation and naval intelligence) and has earned an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, an MA in National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, and an MA in Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University.

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  • Posted on: 07/19/2019

    New concept turns retail store into a theatrical experience

    The House of Showfields is certain to be a memorable and sought after experience for some, yet it’s unclear how this will translate to higher conversion or its ability to sustain over the long run. I admire their sense of experimentation and infusing excitement and the unexpected into the shopping experience. However, when I recommend retail as “theater,” it is not about actors creating a fake or make believe experience that is done to the consumer; rather, that theater needs to be created around the products as they fit in your customers’ lifestyles with the store as the stage. Your customers need to visualize themselves in that theater as active participants and not as onlookers at a carnival.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2019

    What’s the recipe for de-stressing entrepreneurs?

    Good points from Susan and Ian. Certainly without sharing a common vision and passion for the “why,” you invite disaster. Also, I operationalize “smarter than you” by selecting those people that complement -- not duplicate -- your experiences; they add expertise where you don’t have it and collectively as a team you realize those synergies where the whole is significantly greater than the sum of the parts. By definition, any entrepreneurial endeavor is arduous, otherwise you are just copying someone else, so best to pick the core team with care because you will rely on those relationships to succeed AND remain sane.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2019

    What’s the recipe for de-stressing entrepreneurs?

    You will set yourself up for failure if you place all decisions on your shoulders. A small team of trusted colleagues (co-founders and key contributors) as well as family are crucial in maintaining a healthy sense of reality, support, and optimism. Avoid placing the full success and failure of the startup on your shoulders - it’s simply not the case. Be comfortable making timely decisions with limited data and fight the urge to second guess yourself. You can still have moments of introspection, but you can’t revisit key decisions - it will be mentally defeating, undermine your confidence and will break down your team’s tight chemistry. Be honest with yourself, recognize your personal limitations as well as those of your existing startup and crew. While a startup can be all-consuming, it need not be. Maintain some activities outside of your startup - from an exercise routine to meditation, painting, and so on. These are not distractions, but actually allow your mind to process the day’s activities. I learned a lot from my own start-up experience and continue to find the learnings from those bootstrap days highly applicable today.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    Voice is a natural interactive communication medium. Human-computer interfaces are evolving and will increase in adoption as long as they bring greater (and redefine) convenience, speed, and accuracy. Shopping is one of many existing applications for the voice interfaces and I expect it to catch on beyond simple purchases and to more categories. Also, and as disturbing as this may be to some, they can create a trusted, personalized connection, and even be considered a member of the family. Think of the voice interface as a 21st century consumer operating system. It’s highly personal, fast, increasingly loaded with the latest AI capabilities with real-time processing, and the full potential to be fully embedded in one’s daily life. Control the voice interface and you “own” the future. But there’s a huge caveat. Before that can be realized, we will have to make explicit -- and solve -- the very thorny issues of privacy, and data ownership and control. Without a clear, gobbledygook-free privacy policy and a new data paradigm shift that privileges consumers, the promise of the new compute interface will fail to launch. Can companies still gain insight and develop new business models and revenue streams in a consumer-friendly data ownership model? It’s absolutely possible for businesses to thrive, but it will require a very different and highly disruptive trust paradigm (even by today standard) and narrative.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    What makes great retail leaders?

    Well said, Jeff! The “merchant prince(ss)” was all about charismatically marshaling the company around a vision that established (eventually mainstreamed) real connections between styles and lifestyle trends. They didn’t necessarily have to excel on other core leadership traits, their flare and charisma carried the day and everyone around them jumped through hoops to make things work. In today’s dynamic consumer environment combined with massive advances in technology and rising employee expectations, it’s now even more difficult to make this model work. It’s well past the time of walking away from retail exceptionalism and should be demanding a higher level of professionalism, trust, and leadership in the CEO and her C-suite; the board of directors is a great place to start but that also needs a serious redo. Given retail’s prominence in the economy, we should have many more retail CEOs in the top 100. In an HBR annual report on the top 100 performing CEOs around the globe, retail garners seven spots - which grows to 15 by including CPG companies. While company performance is related to the intensity of competition and the macro environment, leading CEOs are much better at adapting to shifting environment and in guiding their entire organization to strategically execute on a compelling vision.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2019

    Are cloud kitchens the next evolution of food delivery?

    This is another iteration in the evolving food landscape. CPG fueled grocery store purchases are competing with data-driven meal kit startups for dining share of spend. They in turn compete with restaurants that are increasingly offering healthier and more varied eating options and looking for ways to lower their fixed cost structure. Cloud kitchens will increase competition and accelerate the ongoing disruption by further lowering entry (and exit) barriers while increasing consumer options. Success will require innovative use of data to identify underserved consumer tribes, combined with trend setting high quality menus and low cost of customer acquisition - a very tall order.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    Is Nordstrom staring at a ‘no-growth’ retail future?

    For Nordstrom, a no-growth future can only happen if management sits on their hands; that is extremely unlikely. Moreover, changing shopper spending need not force Nordstrom to change what the brand has stood for on the retail landscape. In fact, doing so would turn a mere bump on the road into a growing sinkhole. The UBS recommendations are akin to throwing in the towel before the first punch. The opportunity ahead for Nordstrom is real and significant but requires renewed branding effort that highlights the store’s high quality products and legendary service. This will validate purchase decisions by current customers and begin to tap new customers. There's nothing predestined in Nordstrom’s future, the company has the leadership and talent to create the growth future it desires.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    Mom-and-pop grocer gives SNAP recipients an organic foods discount

    Any program or incentive that encourages healthier diet options should be seriously considered. Benefits need to accrue to the SNAP recipients through better informed purchase decisions and retailers’ investments in their communities.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    Will Amazon Live video light up sales for Lamps Plus on Prime Day?

    Lamps Plus gains national exposure to audiences ready to buy when they partner with online marketplaces. Their Prime Day video is akin to placing a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl - a very smart move, and making it interactive boosts the engagement quotient. Top metric has to be sales lift while realizing that this investment pays back over time and can be leveraged in many ways even in the physical store.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    NRF study says customers dig retail tech

    Consumers have been way ahead of retailers and brands on the technology adoption curve. There’s good reasons why in enterprise computing, the term consumer-grade is used to describe superior user experience. No doubt about it, technology is a crucial ingredient in any customer experience scenario. However, applying technology without understanding how it potentially changes the customer relationship is folly. Leaders need to come in a more holistic package as managers, sociologists, and anthropologists on top of being tech savvy. The art of asking the right questions will become more important in the years ahead as we navigate the age of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?

    Politics is much more than political parties. Politics is about who is heard, who gets what when dealing with money, power, status, and social goods. Brands and retailers are economic and legal entities in pursuit of creating wealth, and each with rights and obligations as they operate in a political environment. Today’s arena is highly charged because of how political leaders have applied national symbols and skewed our founding values to advance their own power. The appropriation of national symbols for narrow interests politicizes the very essence upon which we, as Americans, have united. Go back to the 1940s and '50s and listen to the public service announcements -- they galvanized the nation to accept the different ethnicities, languages, and races that have made our country great. We sacrificed to save Europe and continued with its reconstruction - it was in the national interest: morally, economically and politically. We are great in upholding eternal human values and unbound spirit, America is so much more than its GDP - ideals are powerful and inspiring while economies are tied to the whims of the business cycle. The post WWII days were no less political than today’s; however, we identified hate as a disease and elevated acceptance of differences as the American way. Being political need not translate to highly divisive and derisive partisan politics which in turn measures a company’s activities by a maligned definition of patriotism. Separating economic activities from the vagaries of political partisanship is necessary, otherwise we will find much too late that we sow the seeds of our own destruction. The challenge is not with each brand or retailer, it’s with how leaders have purposely decided to “politicize” the economic sphere for their own gain.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Fashion seekers hunt for treasure in Costco’s warehouses

    Costco members trust the company to deliver the goods at the best possible prices and service. Costco is not concerned with breadth of assortment, rather the company takes big bets on reasonably priced high quality merchandise. The treasure hunt atmosphere further ignites the desire to buy now before it’s gone. Department stores have been victims of Costco’s successful strategy and execution. Costco is also eating into specialty formats and the broader supermarket perishable offering as well as health and beauty care. As long as value continues to be delivered via sharply-priced high quality products and wrapped in superior customer service, Costco will thrive and their members will enjoy bragging rights to premium products and services.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Will a new BOPIS option boost Amazon’s results?

    The more customer options, the better unless they become complex and overwhelming. So far, Amazon has been careful to keep the user interface simple and the options intuitive. With more BOPIS and (future) drone deliveries (PrimeAir), the company needs to ensure it doesn’t trip over its mega-success. The “counter” is another excellent addition to the menu.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Rent the Runway lands inside Nordstrom

    Retail’s future is a hybrid one. Physical and digital, stores and online, selling and subscribing, buying and renting, and it transcends individual brands and banners. This is a great move by both companies that adds even greater convenience and says that the path to winning must place the customer at the heart of the value equation.
  • Posted on: 06/25/2019

    Toys ‘R’ Us prepares its American comeback

    The new Toys “R” Us story plays on (recent) nostalgia of the old brand without the negative associations. The new format carries a smaller footprint infused with a play area while costs are reduced through potential consignment arrangement and a clean(er) balance sheet. Chief merchants have an intuitive sense for the business and what makes it successful. However, being human means falling into fallacy traps and avoiding cognitive dissonance. I’d like to think that this investment decision is backed by solid research and objective data and not ones designed to deliver the expected answer. That said, an initial six store “test” ahead of the holidays ought to reveal whether or not we really need a stand alone toy store and its potential configuration.

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