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Snapshots from Jeff Wilke’s maiden visit to India

Whether it was interacting with kids at a Community centre or taking questions from employees at the All hands, or from those at AMAZEWIT (Amazon’s Women in technology conference), we capture Jeff Wilke’s (CEO, Amazon, Consumer Worldwide) maiden visit to India through pictures.

At AmazeWit:

We begin with Jeff's presence at AmazeWit where he shared Amazon’s mantra on innovation, technology, failure and lots more. To an audience that was a mix of techies, entrepreneurs and even Amazoninans, this was like attending a masterclass in “how to build your business.” Below are pics and quotes that summarize the event.

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On building mechanisms:

“For us at Amazon, a mechanism is a tool that we use to scale leadership beyond the line of sight. We first build the tool, check adoption and then inspect ever so often. Because good intentions are not enough – it’s mechanisms that matter.”

Tech and India:

When I think of India, I think of all the technology that's built out of here. Whether it’s the Micron App, or the ML team that powers the Q&A section on Detail Pages or the team that’s working on Alexa’s skills India has a major role in Amazon’s business all over the world.

On inventions:

“We don’t seek to disrupt, we seek to invent. We are excited to invent; sometimes disruptions happen during the process.”

Amazon Stories _Jeff Wilke

On Failure:

"It’s not an experiment if you have a guaranteed outcome. Zshops is an example of our failure."

On innovation and growth:

"We’ve built a mechanism where we work backwards, write a PR – if that idea is great, it wins. Doesn’t matter who wrote it. We have single threaded teams – where the owner of that team thinks of nothing but the invention they own till it’s executed."

On Amazon Robotics:

"Tech powers everything we do. Particularly the turtle-like robots at Amazon FCs which run between shelves and lay out the stack. And tech rarely eliminates human work. It in fact enables better, safer and healthier life. We have hired 1,50,000 warehouse workers at fulfilment centres in the last two years alone. They work alongside robots."

At the Community Centre

At Hyderabad Jeff visited the Community Centre at Hyderabad. This centre located close to India’s largest FC at Hyderabad is at Pedagolapally, which has been set up in partnership with Rural Education and Development (READ) India. With the vision of ‘Creating opportunities and transforming lives’ we create programs to impact and enhance the lives of the local community in the areas of education, women empowerment & livelihood, health and hygiene. So, we had young students sitting at computers working away. There were ladies at sewing machines stitching clothes and bags, even as kids were studying in the classroom. Accompanied by SVP (International Retail) Russell Grandinetti and SVP & India country head Amit Agarwal, they spent some time at the centre and were impressed with the work.

Amazon Stories_Jeff Wilke

Jeff Wilke:

"This is really impressive – kids playing and learning, there’s a library, there’s vocational training – opportunities that builds skills leading to a job. This is the kind of impact that a company like Amazon can have all over the world.”

Russell Grandinetti:

“This is beautiful…I am very proud of the team here. Aside from being a fun place where you can spend time, the skills that are taught here – will produce many dividends.”

At the All Hands Meeting

This session which was held at Hyderabad and Bangalore saw a free flow of questions and answers and while there was a lot of "work" discussed, we give here excerpts of a fun rapid fire Q&A round that took place.

Amazon Stories_All Hands

If it was your first say at Amazon, what would be your advice to your young self?

Jeff Wilke:

We have a lot of software engineers in the room. I’d say invent web services

Russell Grandinetti:

Being new is super valuable. You need a lot of smart people. Don’t assume that we have it all right. Please ask questions even if they seem like dumb questions.

Amit Agarwal:

You are very lucky…be here for a long time!

If you were not at Amazon, what you be doing?

Jeff Wilke:

I’d be leading a manufacturing company…wish I could say I’d be a cricket star but I probably wouldn’t be!

Russell Grandinetti:

We don’t have cricket…we have something as good. I’d be a baseball player.

Amit Agarwal:

My dream was to be a primary school teacher…I’d go back to that.

What has been your most risky initiative at Amazon?

Jeff Wilke:


Russell Grandinetti:

I took the job as Teasurer of Amazon when the Wall Street Journal was writing articles about how we’re gonna run out of money and my mom told me she still has my room, in case I needed to go back!

Amit Agarwal:

It was 3 months in my job and I sent a mail to Jeff Bezos saying, “I can do better” and I get an email in 15 mins saying, “Come to my office and tell me why!"

How should we keep the #Day1 alive at Amazon?

Jeff Wilke:

Stay obsessed and focused with customers not competitors.

Russell Grandinetti:

Pick great managers, pick great colleagues, life is too short to work with people you don’t admire.

Amit Agarwal:

Jeff said it best in his shareholder letter – I’d read it again.

Which is your fav Leadership Principle?

Jeff Wilke:

I love all – but I like a line in them which says leaders don’t believe their body odour smells of perfume.

Russell Grandinetti:

Are right a lot. We do many things that are new and with partial information, that good judgement is valuable.

Amit Agarwal:

We created cowboys which is a combination of Customer Obsession, Invent and Simplify and Bias for Action.

At the Fulfillment Centre

While Jeff took a tour of the Hyderabad FC, he stopped at multiple places to interact with employees. It was reiterated that Amazon's investment in technology and infrastructure has generated employment for thousands of local youth.

Amazon Stories Jeff Visit

When pictures say it all

Throughout his visit, Jeff had to take a lot of pictures - many of them selfies! So, we had to ask him what he thought of the selfie culture in India - and below is his answer.

Amazon Stories Selfie

What do you think of the selfie culture?

Jeff Wilke: This is a beautiful audience and a beautiful audience deserves pictures to commemorate it. I have been surprised of how many selfies have been requested of me and those that I have participated in the last one week – probably more than my whole life. So clearly selfies are important.