Vaishali Bajaj has led the Walmart Connect media product transformation

At Walmart, where the customer is always No.

1 (just ask the crowd at Shareholders Week), Vaishali Bajaj, 37, is well-suited to know both sets of her customers–the shoppers perusing the aisles and the advertisers looking to attract them.  The senior director for product development at Walmart Connect, the retailer’s media business, worked for Unilever and Reckitt before coming to Walmart. Before that, Bajaj advised business clients on quantitative research.

So she had experience both with the trade and consumers before joining Walmart six years ago to lead product development on Walmart Connect, which is about helping brand marketers reach shoppers. Bajaj has led efforts to improve Walmart’s ad experience to triple customer engagement, monetize the online pickup and delivery process, unify Walmart’s grocery and app experiences to streamline things for shoppers and launch in-store digital advertising via self-checkout and TV walls. Recently, she’s also driven the development of marketer self-service for display and sponsored product buys, helped set up the Walmart demand-side platform via The Trade Desk and improved search result relevance.

But Bajaj is eager to do more. She noted what she heard from a guest speaker at a recent Walmart meeting: “The hallmark of a great product person is that they hate their products. That really resonated with me, because while we have done so much getting from zero to one to 10, now we’re looking at going from the tens to the thousands.”

If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would that be and why?

Mahatma Gandhi.

He’s influenced generations. I got the opportunity to read his autobiography at a very early age. The whole philosophy of viewing your life as a series of experiments–taking away the judgment of your own failures and success but rather thinking of everything as an experiment and what did you learn and apply back–has been pretty foundational in shaping some of my thinking.

What two social media do you use on a regular basis?

My source of entertainment usually is YouTube and TikTok.

What’s currently on your bedside reading list?

“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, “The Corporate Hippie” by Kimberly Adams and “The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami” by Radhanath Swam.

What was the last show that you binge-watched?

“Ozark.” There are very extreme reactions about the show.

It can be a little slow. But honestly, it’s very intense.

At what age do you hope to retire?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an advocate of this FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early). But I really enjoy what I’m doing so much that I can’t see a world where I just want to retire and not keep doing what I’m doing.

So I know I’m not going to work forever.

But I don’t see myself retiring before my 60s, and even if I do, I think I’ll keep working in some form.