Rathi Murthy, Verizon Media's new chief technology officer.

Verizon’s interest in 5G goes deep and runs the gamut, from how quickly smartphones connect on the go to how well smart cities run and how stores can use super-juiced connections to drive retail operations of the future. Or so the hype goes. Either way, cellular carriers see 5G as the future. And they want a big slice of it.

To steer this all-important 5G initiative, the cellular provider’s Verizon Media arm has picked retail veteran Rathi Murthy as its new chief technology officer, the company announced on Thursday.

According to Guru Gowrappan, Verizon Media’s chief executive officer, “Rathi is a stellar technology leader who, for over 20 years, has driven growth for some of the world’s biggest companies, including Gap, American Express and eBay.”

Murthy has established cred in tech and retail, having been a senior engineering lead at eBay and Yahoo and the former CTO at Gap Inc. At Verizon Media, she will be responsible for the company’s global technology strategy and leading the team out of the Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. Her priorities will be on 5G, advertising and content, commerce and subscriptions.

Gowrappan calls her a “transformative technology executive” — and it certainly doesn’t hurt the company’s image to put a female executive in such a pivotal role. The timing is interesting, considering how the rest of the tech sector faces ongoing criticism for lackluster female representation.

Meanwhile, potential brand partners and others get to deal with a tech leader who fundamentally “gets” retail.

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