We had a full room for our July Chat with Maria Renz, VP of Global Customer Experience at Amazon. Maria engaged and inspired our largest group of Changemakers to date in Seattle! During her 20 years at Amazon, Maria has served as technical advisor to CEO Jeff Bezos, helped launch Amazon’s free shipping policy and has led many of Amazon’s retail categories including Health & Personal Care, Beauty, Grocery, Shoes, Books, Movies & Music as well as serving as CEO to Amazon’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Quidsi.
In case you missed it, here is our recap this incredible conversation full of inspiration and wisdom.
20 Years at Amazon: “Let’s do it!”
Maria’s career has brought her through different roles, from customer experience, interior design, and marketing. Today as a Changemaker at Amazon, she focuses on three different areas: 1) think into the future and innovate for customers, 2) getting products to homes or businesses even faster (how about robots?!), and 3) the logistics of the return process when products come back to Amazon. To get there, she stayed open to new opportunities and took the approach with her leadership of “What do you want to do? Then, let’s do it!”
Confidence as an approach
When knowing how to “hold your own” at work, Maria tells us that she has great admiration for many people across the company, and even when it might be intimidating, in terms of confidence, she reminds herself there is a reason why she gets included in those conversations. Remember to take your time and ask qualifying questions to make up for that area that isn’t your expertise.
Maria describes herself as having “strong opinions but loosely held”, and knows that when it comes to business, it’s not personal and that the focus is about looking at problems from several different angles. We need to voice an opinion and be open to others who may or may not accept our insight or proposal. If we follow this form of culture and openness, we can collectively feel good about the right outcome.
Taking advantage of new opportunities
When it comes to making a decision about a new opportunity, Maria suggests taking a step back and evaluate your gut reaction to say “no” immediately. Instead she encourages us to consider, “Why Not?” Think about the root cause that is making you say “no” in the first place. It’s also essential to trust the person who is doing the asking – they asked you to consider the opportunity for a reason! Maria has had supporters in her career and learned a tremendous amount in her role around start-up work when she learned to say yes to people she trusted.
What inspires Maria
Maria’s most significant source of inspiration is consumer behavior since early in her career as an interior designer; she made sure to understand who was the family she was working with and how to optimize the way they lived. Later as a project manager, she was required to interview employees from different levels to the CEO and learned how all the functions within an organization come together to create value for customers. Today Amazon’s customer-obsessed culture made it able for her to take different roles horizontally and still focus on what inspires her: people.
On a final note, Maria shared with us that she keeps inspiring people by “doing what you do”. There is always an opportunity in the long term, where we can reach different points in our careers and keep learning.
Mark your calendars for September 17 and RSVP here, for our next Changemaker Chat featuring Karen Okonkwo, Co-Founder of TONL, recognized as an industry revolutionary, disrupter and challenger to the status quo. Join us at the Columbia Tower Club with spectacular views of the city and connect with incredible women with a mission to change the world!
Also, as mentioned at the Chat, our national sponsor M.M.LaFleur has a pop up shop in Seattle through August 26 at 106 Lenora street. Make an appointment online for personal styling!
Great seeing you all and we hope to see you September 17!