The executive who has been overseeing a project at Wal-Mart testing drones in its warehouses is joining Target Corp. to help the Minneapolis-based retailer improve its own supply chain.
Shekar Natarajan is the latest of several senior logistics executives that Target has hired away from various competitors such as Amazon.com and Apple in recent months. The new hires come as Target looks to better compete by getting packages to customers faster and by reducing out-of-stocks on store shelves.
Natarajan's role at Target — senior vice president of network planning and operational design — is a new position. Part of his duties will include implementing "new automation and other technologies to enhance speed, accuracy and efficiency," the company said in a statement. He starts later this month and will work out of Target's Sunnyvale, Calif., office.
At Wal-Mart, Natarajan was vice president of last mile operations, emerging sciences and operational excellence. In June, he showcased for reporters how the company was testing drones that can snap 30 images a second at Wal-Mart's warehouse in Bentonville, Ark., to keep better and faster track of inventory. Wal-Mart executives said, if the test were successful, the company could have drones up and running in all of its warehouses within the next six to nine months.
Natarajan held previous roles at Walt Disney Co., Anheuser Busch and PepsiCo.
He will report to Arthur Valdez, Target's chief supply chain and logistics officer. Since he arrived from Amazon in March, Valdez has been bolstering his team by creating new senior leadership roles. Target hired Ben Cook from Apple in July, followed in August by Preston Mosier, another former Amazon employee.
Other recent recruits in the area of supply chain include Kevin Vliet, who joined Target's Sunnyvale office from Tesla Motors, and Sumesh George, who came to Target's Minneapolis office from Wal-Mart. Both are vice presidents at Target.
"Under Shekar's leadership, I'm confident we'll be better positioned to deliver with improved speed and precision," Valdez said in a statement. "Additionally, his experience and skills in future-state supply chain network planning will be a tremendous asset as we further develop our capabilities for the future."