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.

  • Posted on: 06/07/2019

    Will associates rocking new vests help improve Walmart’s image and results?

    The new vests are attractive and represent a nice refresh. More important is the need to create a work environment that respects the individual while channeling the company’s core values. Walmart’s size requires a huge recruiting machine that attracts and keeps he right talent. We’re seeing efforts along those lines with higher wages, educational support, and flexible scheduling. Retailers have always struggled with high turnover of store associates; for Walmart, that pain point is greatly magnified due to their unique size and footprint. Walmart’s image will be enhanced by the new vests if and only if that fresh look is supplemented by continued focus on helping customers along their time in the store - from finding or returning an item to easy checkout and exit. When an associate feels good about their work place, it carries into their customer interactions.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2019

    How long before Amazon launches its fleet of drones?

    Ten years from now we will be receiving regular deliveries to our homes via multiple means including drones. The latter will not be flying over crowded streets and avenues of Manhattan but more friendlier suburban skies. There’s an even bigger story here. Think of drone deliveries as the battle ground for, and the intersection of, multiple advanced technologies that can be further applied in future consumer settings; especially when layered with advanced artificial intelligence capabilities at the edge. The drone delivery race is much bigger than just last-mile logistics (for which it will be an option), it’s about pushing the innovation envelope to create yet-to-be-defined consumer needs and in effect introducing new product and experiential categories that capture our imagination and reset the competitive bar.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much

    YouTube has become a how-to video haven for DIY projects. However, as one-way communication it cannot compete with a live interactive conversation in your locally owned DIY store like Ace Hardware and True Value. Compared to big box competitors, it’s more than pointing out which aisle has the item, but about helping the customer find the right product and the nuances of getting the job done easily and safely - it’s not rushed nor overwhelming. It’s about asking the right questions and as Shep mentioned, not just being friendly but being helpful.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

    With the different set of preferences between younger and older generations, retail clinics need to identify their target population segment and design accordingly. The qualities up for grabs cluster around convenience, ease of access, speed, and cost. Targeting the younger generations can become a differentiated path forward for retail clinics. Patients are looking for treatment on their own terms and younger patients are less concerned with long term provider-patient relationships. By making it easy and fast, keeping costs down, and executing professionally, retail clinics can overtake urgent care facilities for the younger generations.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Will a city’s ban on tobacco sales catch on across the nation?

    I guarantee that a year from now, this type of ban will find its way beyond California. What doesn’t get much discussion is how access for the well-heeled is less impacted as seen in the Beverly Hills exemptions. If you’re going to have a ban, then get serious and plug those built-in loop holes.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    Whoever solves the checkout paradox will leap to the head of the pack. It never made sense that after making your selections and filling up your cart, you had to wait in line, unload item by item, hand over your money and reload your cart. The bigger your shopping basket, the longer the wait as everyone navigated the operational chokepoint and the last (and lasting) shopping impression. The traditional checkout process penalizes your best customers. Walmart’s new checkout approach is not its first and the company is learning from past attempts. I expect this time it will catch on and for the foreseeable future, all types of checkouts will coexist during a multi-year transition. Store redesigns will be necessary to accommodate smooth future flows as well as ensuring that robust in-store technologies and abundant bandwidths exist.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Will delivering online orders seven days a week further transform retail ops?

    The bar had already been raised. FedEx is simply coming to terms with the new retail reality of 24/7 consumer convenience as it seeks sufficient delivery density to control cost. Retailers have been making the transition to deliver on consumers demand for high availability and convenience through new systems, processes, and revamped supply chain and store operations. Investments and focus will go to elements that increase customer convenience and enhance experiences while simultaneously differentiating on product and assortment.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Walmart to expand its talent pipeline with a debt-free college plan for high schoolers

    Walmart is taking bold steps along two key fronts that impact its capacity to grow profitably. One has been an aggressive technology turn to innovate and create efficiencies in a hybrid retail landscape of physical and online assets. With 1.5 million U.S. employees, the second area is people. The latest move to recruit high school students by appealing to a debt free college education and stable, student-friendly scheduling is certain to hit the right cord. Walmart is making an investment in its future workforce through Live Better U program, rather than viewing high schoolers as a temporary and fungible commodity. Great move by a company unwilling to rest on past success!
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Experience is overrated, hire talent

    Most companies use experience to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for training and decrease the time to contribution -- getting quicker value from the hire. Experience becomes a marker for future success. Where it fails to predict and deliver is when processes are in flux, new technology is introduced, and a break from past mental models is required. Experience will always be sought, but it comes tempered with an open mind set, inquisitiveness, empathy, and a half-full attitude. These are qualities that the typical training program is less likely to produce.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Will the price of avocados make Americans say enough to Trump’s tariffs?

    Companies require regulatory stability and predictability to invest and hire for the long term. This stew of politics, economics, and egos is simmering in a sea of fear that purposely negates the logical with the irrational while creating a constant stream of uncertainty. Agility, be it strategic or tactical, cannot anticipate or keep up with the next policy salvo in the twitter sphere. I don’t anticipate that most retailers, especially grocers, will pass through the initial 5 percent in tariffs; however, the floodgates will open with the scheduled monthly increases which grocers will not be able to contain. The most pain will be felt by U.S. consumers and the economy. Disentangling economics from policy and elections is needed lest we become pawns to those who have the power to create and frame problems in ways that only they can solve.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Are retail HQs and stores suffering a communication breakdown?

    In our case, the solution is in understanding that less is more - much more! Headquarters rarely speak with a unified voice to the store. Instead you have merchants, visual, marketing, communications, store ops, facility, distribution center, finance, and on and on piling on what each considers important to them. The store personnel have to decipher and prioritize, which turns to generally dismissing directives as they find their staffing numbers dwindling in each store’s schedule. Some day, there might even be meaningful two-way communications and store visits that pass the reality check instead of heroic last minute sprucing up that appeases and pleases higher ups with “store compliance.”
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Can a startup undercut Rent the Runway in the clothing rental space?

    Rental of products as a retailing concept will continue to evolve and expand to new categories - even luxury items. We’re still early in generating demand, but personalization coupled with re-use and circular economy factors may be priming the pump. While the subscription pricing is important to attract consumers or lock out competition, more important is the ability to attract more brands in order to deliver a high variety of fresh styles that resonate. The more options that are in the hands of consumers, the more attractive will be the value proposition. Two other important elements: the startup must be able to communicate their consumer-based differentiators clearly and repeatedly as well as continuing to reduce shipping, logistics and dry cleaning costs. Don’t underestimate the insights derived from consumer behavior that are captured by these subscription services. They can be highly valuable in predicting future demand and consumer behavior.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    Corporate boards provide the governance structure that guides a company’s strategic decisions and CEO succession. A board’s primary responsibility is to ensure optimization of capital allocation, maximization of company performance over the long term, and increasing shareholder value. The notion of including store associates on retail boards may sound seductively progressive and customer-centric; but it is not. More important for successful boards is being independent, competent, and dynamically reflective of leading business and social trends. They need to have a diversity of experiences and open mindsets. They need to challenge and coach the CEO, rather than nod approvingly at every turn. They need to keep their fingers out of business execution, but be fully engaged in guiding strategy, capital allocation, while holding company executives accountable for results. It’s a fiduciary responsibility, not a popularity contest.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Lands’ End is looking to get out of Sears like a bat out of hell

    Lands' End's online presence, ability to personalize offers, and maintaining quality merchandise have allowed the brand to grow while catering to a loyal customer base with a stream of relevant physical catalogs. I do not associate the brand with Sears (and haven't for the last five years), and there isn’t a single good business argument for the relationship, however tenuous, to continue. Bottom line, Lands' End's management should continue a focus on quality, increasing digital-mobile presence, and personalizing offers. Don’t dilute the brand by trying to be more for the sake of unsustainable growth. Stay with the long game.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?

    Logo and taglines don’t build a brand but emphasize inherent company qualities and values. It’s difficult to imagine a much different Sears under the same leadership and mindset. Mr. Lampert has proven without any doubt an inability to understand retail as a business rather than retail as an ATM in a real estate and asset play. Unfortunately, as long as he has full control of the new Sears, Mr. Lampert will continue on his old path; a reasonable person cannot be compelled to think otherwise. Mr. lampert can change all that by actually investing in the future and rebuilding from the ground up rather than from a logo and tagline. The former is hard work, the latter is no more than applying lipstick on a pig. Time to hear more about the second act from the new Sears.

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