With more than 15 years of experience in senior technology leadership roles, Mr. Murali joins the Ashford team from Fabric.com, an Amazon subsidiary and a worldwide leader in the online retail of custom-cut-to-length quilt, apparel, and home decorating fabric and associated items. He has a background and training in engineering, and extensive experience with application and software development. His career trajectory has led him to be considered a senior e-commerce expert in the creation, execution, maintenance and measurement of strategic e-commerce solutions.
In his role as chief technology officer, Mr. Murali will build, manage, and lead the company’s technology team, and will be responsible for the website, security, operational platforms and technology behind the customer experience. He will be the technology face of the company to investors, to the board and at industry events.
“We are excited to partner with Ashford to build their team as they look to continue evolving their global digital ecommerce platform,” said Mr. Buffkin. “Vijay Muralis, former Amazon technology executive, will play a large role in the success of Ashford.com.”
Buffkin Group is also in the final stages of wrapping up its search for Ashford’s chief financial officer.
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Founded in 1999, Ashford.com is a global internet retailer of fine watches and specialty jewelry with a strong domestic and rapidly growing international presence. Over the last several years, the company completed a substantial investment in technology and fulfillment protocols to transition a historically wholesale business to a leading global and rapidly growing e-commerce one providing a personalized luxury shopping experience to consumers. Mr. Murali will now oversee that infrastructure.
The Buffkin Group offers executive search, executive coaching, management assessment and executive outplacement services, but its primary focus is on recruiting executives in the healthcare, technology, marketing, media, financial services and non-profit sectors. The firm serves public, private, venture and private equity backed companies from offices in Brentwood, TN, New York, and Alexandria, VA, with affiliate offices in San Francisco and London.
The firm has placed other technology officers, including those at Benefitfocus, Healthstream, Edo Interactive, and Espernet (now part of Earthlink).
Newly-named CTOs have been cropping up in a range of recent corporate hirings, from industrial giant GE to data management company NetApp to non-profits like the Museum of Modern Art — all have named chief technology officers within the last 10 months. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton hired a longtime Google technology executive when her presidential campaign began in earnest last summer to serve as CTO to oversee technology development in her bid for the White House.
Yet, according to recruiters specializing in landing top flight technology talent, in the always changing world of technology these executives are becoming tougher to recruit.
“Chief technology officer assignments are getting increasingly more difficult given the complexity and integration of a global, digital economy,” said Mr. Buffkin. “They are becoming a more valuable member of the team and are having to align themselves more closely with marketing than ever before. Both technical and business aptitude are critical to the success of the role,” he said.
Ross Freeman, CEO of executive search firm 680 Partners and a specialist recruiter in the sector, said the importance of CTOs in today’s business environment cannot be overstated. “As companies shift structures, we will see more senior people in the CIO / CTO organizations taking on significant business decisions,” he said.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media