Today we are talking to Jeremy King, the CTO at Walmart. And we discuss building trust with your stakeholders by being open and transparent, their approach to hiring over 4000 technologists in under two years and what metrics Jeremy finds most useful to keep track of.
All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!
Jeremy King is executive vice president and chief technology officer for Walmart. His organization, Walmart Labs, consists of customer technology, merchant technology, and supply chain technology that covers all Walmart U.S. stores and eCommerce – including a global presence in cloud and data platforms. Their charter is to create the world’s leading retail platform to enable the most seamless customer experience.
Jeremy has been on the forefront of cloud computing and brings over 20 years of experience building highly available and scalable technology platforms to support global commerce operations. He is an expert on engineering methodology and productivity, developing software as a service (SaaS) technology platforms, and presentation layer frameworks.
Before joining Walmart, Jeremy spent three years at LiveOps as executive vice president of technology. At LiveOps, he guided Fortune 500 companies to migrate their services to the cloud, embrace crowd sourcing in the enterprise, and adopt highly available and secure SaaS platforms.
Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in information technology from San Jose State University. He is an advisory board member for the CTO Forum, an organization that brings together senior leaders across the technology industry to discuss and collaborate on key issues facing the industry and accelerate innovation across organizations.
-On the road quite a bit. Half of the team is in Arkansas. Half in California and another 1000 in Bangalore
-CTOs don’t have a lot of cohorts within the company. Usually the only technologist at the executive table so CTO forum is great to be with peers
-Joels transition from Developer to CTO – Can’t get far without relationships
-Jeremy Talking about engineer to leader. Value of relationships. Able to make a call and find out who is a subject matter expert. Everybody goes through their own journeys through their own way.
-What is Walmart labs doing that is producing so many great leaders? The amount you can learn about scaling.
-The name was trying to convey that they are a research arm and are delivering solutions in a new way. Tech has always been a part of Walmart but they haven’t gotten credit for it in the past
-What does your involvement look like with hiring over 2000 technologists? Spent a lot of last year going over the details of scaling.
-What are you excited about that will attract people to your company? Developing front end, online grocery. Essentially at ride share company for online grocery.
-Have a kick off meeting every year . YBM Year Beginning Meeting. Organic farmers growing upwards
-Advice for first time leaders. Teaches an e-commerce MBA class at alma mater. You see a lot of engineers want to jump management early. Please do not join management too early. Build an expertise in an area. At some point in your career. You need to be the person that someone will go to to get information.
-Mentoring. Had a really strong mentor who was hard on him but he was using Jeremy as much as he was using him. What people thinking about, what are they complaining about. As you get more senior finds himself spending more time with his mentees. Mostly senior engineers. Folks you can rely on to get the truth.
-People will ask him to be a mentor but he doesn’t always know if he’s the best fit. Needs to get to know them first. Doesn’t mind having a 1 on 1 meeting a few times but it has to be a good fit for a mentor mentee relationship
-Do you have a favorite metric that you find useful to track? CTO is measured by making sure that his systems are up all the time. System availability is no. 1 priority . Number 2 is he got his job because people want him to delivering his products in a timely manner. Time to Value.
-Third metric is transparency. Has his teams running super hard on lots of projects. Use the modern tools to show the organization what they are doing and it gives the organization trust.
-What trends do you think will have the biggest impact on your team and organization. The ability to get access to great compute resources and data. Machine learning algorithms. Simplification of programming in general. Particularly in access to ML world. How do I make sure I’m collecting the right data that is accurate and easily accessible. You start running in to data problems when you start using ML. Moved systems to event streams.
-Have never believed in under promise and over deliver. Have the right culture with people who have a passion for delivery