Best Buy’s chief digital officer, Bala Subramanian, has left the company to serve as the chief digital officer of wireless communications giant AT&T, GeekWire has learned.
AT&T confirmed his addition to GeekWire in an email. A Best Buy spokesperson told GeekWire that Subramanian has been replaced by Brian Tilzer, formerly the chief digital officer of pharmacy giant CVS Health.
“We are excited to welcome Bala Subramanian to the AT&T family as Chief Digital Officer,” AT&T EVP of Digital, Retail and Care Rasesh Patel said in a statement. “Bala will lead our efforts to provide a seamless omni-channel customer experience. He has a strong track record of leading digital transformations and we look forward to the value Bala and his team will deliver for our customers and employees.”
Subramanian spent nearly six years at Best Buy, initially serving as the company’s chief technology officer. During his tenure, he oversaw the company’s digital and e-commerce strategy as it adapted to a new retail landscape, including the opening of its nearly 100 employee engineering center in Seattle.
It has, by all measures, been successful: Best Buy has made a comeback even as scores of big box retailers close their doors. A few weeks ago, it struck a new partnership with Amazon that strengthens its presence on the e-commerce platform.
Subramanian helped Best Buy ride the e-commerce wave by building on the company’s physical footprint, using its existing stores as a distribution network as well as showrooms for customers to test products.
Subramanian spoke with GeekWire about Best Buy’s digital transformation on a past episode of our podcast. Listen to it in the player below:
“Rather than try to think about e-commerce and looking at stores as two separate things — which we as consumers don’t anymore — how do we actually start to use digital as tying those two together, so you can truly look at multi-channel retail? That’s one thing we are focused on,” Submaranian said during the interview.
Now Tilzer, a longtime retail executive, will take up that mantle of transformation, and his experience in retail technology will be vital.
He was most recently the chief digital officer at CVS, currently the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., before which he led strategy and e-commerce at retailers Staples and Linens n Things. Early in his career, he worked with professional services company Accenture to help retail clients, including Best Buy, implement growth and performance improvement programs.
Submaranian, for his part, is also highly qualified for hew new role at AT&T: Before joining Best Buy, he spent more than 15 years as a technology leader and executive at T-Mobile, which is facing off with AT&T and Verizon as it attempts to merge with Sprint to create a third wireless giant in the U.S. market.
As of publishing, Subramanian was not listed among AT&T’s senior leadership on the company’s website, nor was past AT&T CDO Teresa Ostapower. Ostapower’s LinkedIn profile still lists her position as AT&T cheif digital officer.