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: 05/24/2022

    Robots and drones and Walmart’s supply chain, oh my

    The fundamental takeaway is the enormous financial and time investment required to identify, select, and retrofit a supply network. This strategic multi-year decision commits Walmart to accelerate product flow and reduce its labor pool with leading-edge robotics, which raises the bar for the competition. On the drone side, Walmart has been experimenting for two years and appears to have settled on DroneUp. Current FAA regulations call for line-of-sight deliveries, limiting the range to about 1.5 miles versus DroneUp’s range of 3 miles. Walmart and Alphabet’s Wing have leapfrogged Amazon in the drone delivery wars.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2022

    Will Adidas help Foot Locker get over Nike?

    Smart move by Foot Locker and Adidas that benefits both parties. I will be surprised if Nike’s share of Foot Locker’s business in the second half of the year isn’t well under 50 percent. Adidas and other brands are stepping in to help Foot Locker diversify its assortment, putting the retailer on a less treacherous footing.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2022

    Are executive departures at Kohl’s a sign of things to come?

    Kohl’s has had a mixed bag of news and reported results this year. Notwithstanding the company’s assurances, the departure of two key executives creates a short-term challenge. The list of interested parties to buy out the company has not delivered any formal offers. Kohl’s desired transaction price has been unrealistically high given the current market, and that window of opportunity is now effectively closed. On the plus side, the shareholders' support of the current board should give the company some runway without activists muddling in the business. The senior executive changes combined with shareholder support indicate that Kohl’s is no longer considering a sale. Instead, the company will rebuild its C-suite and refocus efforts on the strategic growth initiatives announced in March of this year.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2022

    Walmart and Target report higher sales and lower margins

    These results are a warning to those that still view the consumer as in good shape. Demand for discretionary goods is flagging, and inflation pressures create difficult consumer spending decisions against macro headwinds with the Fed rate hikes and the GDP trending lower. To maintain margins, retailers will need to raise prices when consumers are under pressure. We are in a hostile environment, and earning results for the next quarter will not be better.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Should Zara (and other retailers) be charging for online returns?

    Any online retailer that charges for returns, regardless of the reason, is pursuing a demand destruction strategy in the guise of cost containment. A better approach is to invest in better product descriptions, higher quality images and color fidelity, customer reviews, and accurate sizing charts. There will always be returns, and some customers will abuse that policy; that’s the nature of the old catalog sales model and its online successor.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Would grocery delivery be a healthy addition to Apple’s business?

    No, Apple will not be getting into grocery delivery. What is much more likely is that Apple will create personalized shopping lists based on each subscriber’s unique health and nutritional needs and desires. They could integrate images of their meals, analyze the ingredients, access and monitor daily vitals, track progress against fitness goals and provide a partner delivery service or grocery chain with the AI-generated order. Apple could also propose to the subscriber a short options list of grocers or services with time-definite delivery.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Wayfair’s earnings miss may portend trouble for fellow ‘disruptor’ brands

    Some lessons to consider: There must be a credible path to profitability. All models, disruptive or otherwise, are still prone to the ups and downs of the business cycle. It's difficult to pivot and manage your business model from digitally native to a hybrid/physical without incurring higher levels of investing. Inflection points are either imposed by the market or proactively created by a CEO and board with courageous foresight; the latter is a rare animal in business.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Grocers fret over how to pass higher costs onto customers

    We know it’s never a blanket either/or option. An exception is Sprouts, which decided that it didn't compete on price and passed through the inflationary costs to its customers and is experiencing smaller basket size and unhappy investors. Grocers can take a lesson from Albertsons’ surgical approach to passing through inflation costs. First, optimize the entire shopping basket for unit and dollar increases. Second, look at macro-categories like protein, and use your butcher to make different cuts and mixes of animal proteins that fit your customer’s budget. Third, don’t mess with benchmark items that consumers use to evaluate your pricing strategy automatically. These can vary by category and market, so act locally. Fourth, Use customer loyalty data and purchase histories to guide your pricing and promotion decisions. Finally, on promotions, be more selective and keep your shelves stocked.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Kroger wants to accelerate its go fresh and go local push

    Brilliant program by Kroger to bring fresh ideas and locally-influenced flavors into the company’s fresh categories: produce, floral, deli, bakery, specialty cheese, dairy, meat, and seafood. Innovative products create customer excitement and greater loyalty while expanding the size and value of the basket. The accelerator complements the central buying group by giving Kroger the benefits of a decentralized model within a centralized buying construct.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    How should retail companies best navigate the abortion controversy?

    You don’t navigate these issues. You lead by example. The days when corporations and leaders could stay out of politics and social issues are long gone. I am proud to have spent several years working at Levi’s in San Francisco. My admiration for the company has never been higher.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Are Americans getting ready to hit the brakes on spending?

    They are already hitting the brakes. Sprouts reported its Q1 results yesterday, and the company’s CFO, Chip Molloy, warned that inflation was not slowing and customers are putting “one to two fewer items in their basket than last year.” He added that consumers spend more limited discretionary funds on experiential offerings and travel and restaurants. Grocers like Sprouts that choose to pass through the cost inflation to consumers entirely are more likely to suffer slowing unit sales compared to Albertsons, which has had a partial inflation pass through to their customers.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    How long until the metaverse reaches mainstream appeal?

    When Facebook’s Zuckerberg declared the company’s strategic pivot and renamed his company, Meta, he realized both the vast power of his brand and the existing and barely nascent momentum for the metaverse. He meant to create a new narrative and turn a leap of faith into a strategic commitment. The financial markets responded with doubt and concerns over the duration and the required investments combined with the uncertainty to realize. During the growth phases of the business cycle, optimism reigns, and bold bets are rewarded. The opposite is true during downturns: risk is averted, and capital-intensive aggressive growth strategies are punished. We are in that latter category. Mr. Zuckerberg and Meta’s ecosystem are stoking the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and want your company to jump on the bandwagon and help them develop the metaverse concept and benefits. Retailers and other consumer-oriented companies need to stay apprised of the metaverse and its implications. But, they don’t need to dive headlong into the unknown because the metaverse will take much longer to develop as a living concept, but it will scale quickly once it hits an inflection point several years from now. Still, the metaverse will not be the sole or primary consumer option or model of engagement. Today’s FOMO makes no sense, but small well-thought experiments do.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Does resale make sense for Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    Resale makes absolute sense for Dick’s Sporting Goods. The resale market is growing and getting more relevant across categories and for more population segments. In 2020, 33 million Americans bought second-hand products for the first time, and that market is expected to double in five years. In a resale model, you gain critical mass faster by accepting other brands, which offers the consumer more choices and more reasons to come in. Great initiative!
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Will Amazon’s Pet Day take a bite out of Chewy?

    Amazon uses its massive infrastructure investments to lock in customers using sales events. The company elevates and delivers on ever-higher expectations that others must match: variety, in-stock position, date-specific deliveries, easy and transparent tracking, and intuitive order placement and flow. Amazon’s Pet Day will put pressure on Chewy, who has to continue investing in their supply network while upping even higher their customer service chops.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2022

    Is Hy-Vee’s highly public corporate restructuring prescient or something else?

    Hy-Vee’s public announcement is not unusual per se, but in its timing. The company is employee-owned and takes pride in being open and transparent to its employees and the community. The economic conditions in the coming quarters are more challenging given inflation and a tightening Fed policy. I applaud their transparency and desire to inform the community. I question the call for a restructuring, which implies a lasting and more enduring economic shift. Hy-Vee needs to be agile in its response more than placing all bets on a single future outcome in their scenario planning exercise.

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