Mohamed Amer, PhD

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. Mohamed brings a unique combination of business and cross-cultural capabilities to impact policy, governance, strategy, and outcomes for organizations in multiple industry sectors and domains. 

Mohamed is a proven strategic leader, mentor, and communicator with executive, board, entrepreneurial, and operational experience across the private and public sectors. He combines unique skills as a decorated aviator and military intelligence officer, a distinguished corporate executive at Germany’s SAP, and a startup co-founder with a successful M&A exit. He has a track record in identifying, formulating, and executing product portfolio strategy, go-to-market, strategic communications, and building programs that identify and align opportunities to aggressive growth trajectories. Mohamed 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 and managed strategic user groups and executive customer councils. He also led internal and external communication roles across multiple sectors and had responsibility for executive communications in SAP’s Office of the Co-Presidents.

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

As a Naval Flight Officer and airborne Mission Commander in the U.S. Navy, Mohamed led national airborne SIGINT missions in several theatres of operations, including areas of conflict. As an intelligence officer, he coordinated intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination across multiple intelligence organizations (DIA, CIA, NSA) and allied countries. At the Pentagon, Mohamed represented the Office of the Director of Naval Intelligence on Capitol Hill. He participated in House and Senate Committee hearings on Persian Gulf mining incidents and delivered one-on-one briefings to the late Honorable Senator John W. Warner of Virginia. 

Mohamed holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. He has earned an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and an M.A. in National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

  • Posted on: 08/08/2022

    Is Amazon’s deal for iRobot all about mapping Americans’ homes?

    Amazon wants to be part of everything you do, to be the essential partner whatever your lifestyle. The more devices in the home, the more connections into your viewing habits, your search and purchase history, the more insights the company can generate, and the greater its predictive power. All of which create more valuable advertising opportunities for higher ad revenue. Data is the gateway to all future revenue streams.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2022

    Can venture funds help retailers keep apace with technology?

    Corporate venture funds can help retailers keep pace with innovation trends in the startup world. But just because you create a corporate fund doesn't mean you will automatically attract the startups you desire. Startups weigh the pros and cons of corporate VCs and can identify several benefits from such a relationship. Corporate VCs give the startup an immediate credibility boost and add significant domain and network connections. They tend to be more patient and take a longer view than traditional VCs. They don't usually take a board seat and maintain a lower stake to avoid triggering GAAP reporting. On the less attractive side, the strategic objective of the corporate VC may not align with the startup's financial exit strategy, which may include a Right of First Refusal clause on any acquisitions. Competitors to the corporate VC and their ecosystem may shy away from doing business with the startup. The bottom line is that to wade into the digital innovation stream all corporations, including retailers, should investigate launching a venture fund as part of their investment in the future. But they can't lose sight of how the startups view these relationships.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2022

    Will refurbished products deliver ‘good as new’ results for Walmart?

    Refurbished products allow more consumers to purchase products they otherwise are unable to. Apple sells refurbished iPhones and iPads with a one-year warranty. Amazon and Best Buy have done so and guarantee for 90 days. Walmart customers will see this new addition to the company’s offering as good news. Value-sensitive consumers have been tapping into the refurbished market, which will only increase given inflationary pressures. Good move, Walmart, but why did it take you so long?
  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    The Nordstrom tire return story is true

    Storytelling is core to our humanity. It unleashes creativity and imagination and allows exploration and discovery, but most of all, it increases understanding and empathy. Storytelling brings your brand and what it stands for to life; it makes experiences tangible and predictable, it guides and instructs. Storytelling creates the emotional glue your associates need to connect with your customers, as it facilitates your customers' engagement with your brand.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2022

    Will the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ model overcome economic and regulatory challenges?

    BNLP thrives when sales are up, and credit is plentiful. When the opposite conditions prevail, consumers' creditworthiness goes down, which pushes repayment risks higher. However, retailers are happy to drive as many sales as possible while shifting risk to BNPL players.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2022

    Best Buy cuts forecast in glass half full announcement

    Best Buy is an innovative retailer with a realistic and macro-aware CEO and board. The business cycle is a given, and companies must be able to navigate and adapt accordingly (up or down). I have more confidence in that type of company and team compared to one that blindly guides higher in the face of ferocious headwinds -- they’re either misleading investors or are oblivious to future demand.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Can Walmart roll back inflation?

    The apparel segment of retailing is in trouble, while basics like grocery are doing fine, according to Walmart. Margin pressures will continue, as will consumers’ cutting back on discretionary spending. Will discounting have an impact on inflation? Nope, not at all. Inflation flows through the value chains over months and quarters, from raw materials and commodities to finished goods and shelter. Demand destruction is how inflation is brought down, creating excess inventories and the need to discount.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted

    The silver market does not present the marketing and advertising allure and excitement attached to the younger segments. The entire premise of slicing your customer base according to age undermines the potential to increase market share. Being 50+ today is not the same as it was 50 years ago. The untapped potential is evident and goes unmet. Why? Marketers focus on youth as a symbol and source of social trends and cutting-edge ideas with a longer consumption path. They have been lazy by lumping the silver market into a cohort consumed with chronic illness, worried about their death, or searching for companionship. There is a lot to learn from Japan, where nearly half the population is over 50 and where innovative products and services aimed at that group thrive.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2022

    Are digital-only coupons discriminatory against the elderly and poor?

    I am a huge proponent of technology; it has added speed and convenience for consumers and lowered costs, and improved processes for retailers and brands. However, technology is not neutral, and every company needs to consider its impact on its customers and employees. The introduction of technology should not limit access to services and offers. App designs can be sensitive to the less technologically savvy consumer, but access is a tougher nut to crack.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2022

    When will supply chains return to normal?

    The real lesson from the last two years is that supply chain models have been structurally based on a low volatility world, which no longer exists. Geopolitics pressures, domestic polarization, demographic changes, and food and water insecurities all operate on top of the current economic cycle and tightening the money supply. The supply chain networks that thrived for the past four decades are out of sync with geopolitical realities today and moving forward. Manufacturing, sourcing, and demand patterns are changing, and any equilibrium they find will be short-lived. The most crucial action for companies in the retailing world is to increase their capabilities of proactively identifying, assessing, and mitigating risk. The days of operational stability and certainty are in the rearview mirror.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Is Amazon on the verge of reinventing American healthcare?

    Amazon intends to reinvent American healthcare, but it’s too early to predict the outcome. What the company has done is create a primary and urgent care ecosystem for its employees to address cost pressures without sacrificing the quality of care. The company has also begun building the foundational blocks to disrupt the mega healthcare industry. Retailers with a high number of employees in physical stores or fulfillment centers are keen on controlling the spiraling cost of healthcare. In the case of Amazon, it has 1.1 million employees in the U.S. alone! Accessibility, affordability, and patient experience are the critical markers for the Amazon healthcare business. While desiring to control Amazon's healthcare costs and employee experiences, the company continues to set its sights on solving a uniquely American problem: the highest healthcare spending per capita in developed countries with less desirable or commensurate outcomes.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2022

    Macy’s keeps going small and off-mall

    Going small and off-mall is fine and good, but can these actions move the needle for Macy’s? The company has been transforming for at least a decade, but these moves cannot change the downward spiral of the department stores’ share of retailing. The growth via acquisition and rebranding days of Terry Lundgren were cast against that same shrinking share as if there were a defensible moat in super-sizing the department store. In 2022, the runway for Jeff Gennette is much shorter than he realizes. While merchandising execution is crucial, the current business model significantly limits the company’s optionality and future growth.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2022

    Does Walgreens have the right response to defuse growing calls to boycott the chain?

    Strategic communication is significantly more than the usual PR. It is one of the most ignored strategic pillars in business and includes integrated internal, external, executive, and crisis communication plans and programs. The messages (internal and external) should be coherent, clear, and straightforward. Walgreens' leadership team appears lost and inept in handling the situation, let alone having the foresight to anticipate the likely scenarios for their business and industry. It’s more than getting a response right; it’s about having a coherent communication strategy that anticipates and is executable. Walgreens should be in profound damage control and quickly invest in building strategic communication capabilities.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2022

    Is luxury retail’s sweet spot?

    Luxury’s affluent consumers are the last to feel the effect of negative macroeconomics. As the stock market continues to slide, high-end purchases will decline, and the final retail domino will fall in the current business cycle.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2022

    Should Amazon ax its private labels to appease regulators?

    No, Amazon should not ax its private label business to appease regulators. But the company cannot ignore the attention it has garnered. Retailing is structurally changing, and the amount and type of data capture, and implications, are very different than it was a decade or two ago. Like any competitive business, Amazon uses all its strengths to build deeper and broader business moats. The cries of foul play should be expected, as are regulators’ concerns and inquiries. However, that does not automatically suggest a strategy reversal is required, but perhaps a course correction to avoid a pyrrhic victory. Technology’s constant advances, new business models, and disruptive social forces create uncertainties even for the most prominent companies. Regulators are necessary to curb unsavory players and pariahs feeding on vulnerable consumers, but please tread carefully so innovation doesn’t become the accidental victim.

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