El Estoque

MVHS alumnus Om Marwah makes Forbes 30 under 30

Jady Wei

Updated on Feb. 23 at 2:02pm: Marwah did not join Walmart Labs after his first few minutes of informally meeting STS Prasad. After his initial discussion with Prasad, Senior Vice President of Walmart Labs, he was introduced to his current boss who was setting up a new team called Targeting. He then went into @Walmartlabs to interview and was made an offer.

 

Ambition.

That was the driving force behind alumnus Om Marwah’s young success. He has made the Forbes 30 under 30 list, at the mere age of 25. All candidates were nominated through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, or by voting up other people’s picks by using the “like” button next to each post. Marwah, like the other nominees, is deemed one of the most important innovators and influencers.

“It’s extremely humbling and encouraging to be placed on the Forbes list. The desire for success and ambition has been very important for me,” Marwah said. “You have to believe that you will be the best, and that you can achieve massive goals.”

Marwah’s keen aspiration became evident at an early age. At MVHS, he enrolled in an AP Biology course, which first inspired his interest in the sciences. Upon graduating in 2007, Marwah attended the University of California, Los Angeles with the hopes of continuing his studies in Biology.

“After AP Bio in Monta Vista with my teacher [Tim] Krieger, who was truly a world class teacher with a phenomenal teaching system, I was inspired to study biology in college,” Marwah said. “I enjoyed it at UCLA, but it didn’t necessarily give me the academic fulfillment that I was seeking and I also didn’t see a career in biology as where I wanted to go in my future.”

Instead, Marwah began taking geography classes and explored the field of cognitive science, believing that both were very much similar studies and seeing a potential for a future interdisciplinary career. Both revolve around analyzing human behaviors, social trends, ethology and cogitation, all areas in which he had an immense passion. For the next five years in college, Marwah was driven by a hunger for knowledge, seeking ways to gain more insight on his fields of study.

“I’ve read enough books in enough different areas,” Marwah said. “In fact, I’ve read scientific journals that gave me expertise I haven’t come across another person having. For me, it’s all about the passion. To continue learning the interdisciplinary.”

Marwah continued to pursue an interdisciplinary study in geography and psychology during his college years. In addition to courses and readings, Marwah participated in various consulting and clinical research projects. However, it wasn’t until the end of his five-year-long study that he came upon a game-changing event.

In 2012, a new technology called Big Data emerged, which enables people to analyze massive amounts of data in parallel computing procedures. This ability to take huge data sets and analyze them sufficiently renewed Marwah’s ambitions.

“I knew this would be a very big thing going forward,” Marwah said. “As a psychology and biology student, [I] would take a group of people, study them in an environment and analyze them. With big data, we can take massive amounts of data and be able to combine them together. I realized that I can take a lot of geographic variables of data…and bring new insights.”

Following the exposure to this frontline innovation, Marwah attended a conference on Big Data, where he had the serendipity of meeting the Vice President, STS Prasad, of Walmart Lab.

“I already knew what I can do, so I could passionately communicate to him about my ideas and what I envisioned,” Marwah said. “We had an informal discussion about the problems of Walmart Lab. And I told him I can solve those problems.”

Only minutes into the conversation, Marwah was invited to work in the retail sector of Walmart Labs. As a member of the targeting team, he began using various types of datas to plan marketing tactics, and incorporated the techniques of Big Data. Working in a business with the largest retail data sets in the world, Marwah believed that Walmart would provide him with unique opportunities and inspire him to continue generating innovative ideas.

“Working with a high-power team of PhDs, I’ve been able to try all kinds of ideas, and extremely creative things,” Marwah said. “I just throw [my ideas] on the wall, and see what sticks.”

Over time, Marwah’s novel approaches and innovative designs garnered him high prestige nationwide. As more and more people want to hear about his ideas, he is invited frequently to guest speak at different places. Marwah believes that the most important thing is to always think about how one’s studies occurs in daily life, and contemplate on ways one can apply individual perspectives to do something better for the world.

“I had this self belief. I don’t think I ever thought about it, the way that it happened today. But I’ve always believed that I would do big things,” Marwah said. “I always had the age 30 in my mind, but I didn’t think I could achieve so much at just 25.”

Looking past his high achievements, Marwah has already set several goals for his near future, including potentially mentoring students at MVHS and creating new retail ideas to make Americans healthier and happier.

“The hunger for more is an everyday passion for me,” Marwah said. “After you get more today, you want more tomorrow. It’s really a gradual process, and when you move in that direction, you can move to places you never could imagine.”