The Amazon veteran’s latest job gives her a commanding view of Amazon’s wildly diverse federation of activities — valuable experience for someone whose career has been mostly focused on the retail side of the company.
In the top echelons of Amazon.com, an environment where women are underrepresented, Maria Renz seems poised for a bright future.
The New Jersey native, a 17-year Amazon veteran, is CEO Jeff Bezos’ “technical adviser,” a sort of shadow and consigliera for one of the most powerful individuals in technology and retail.
It’s a feather in her already well-decorated cap: Renz has led several businesses at Amazon and was most recently the CEO of Quidsi, a New Jersey-based subsidiary that caters to moms.
“My formal job description is to help Jeff be the best CEO that he can be,” Renz said in an interview.
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The job gives her a commanding view of Amazon’s wildly diverse federation of activities — valuable experience for someone whose career has been mostly focused on the retail side of the company.
Named to the job in April 2015, Renz is the first woman to hold a position that has served as a launchpad for several of Amazon’s most powerful executives. One former Bezos technical adviser is Andy Jassy, the head of Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s huge cloud computing unit.
Renz’s rise is all the more unusual in an industry that remains mostly populated by men — especially on the top rungs of the ladder. Less than 40 percent of employees and a quarter of managers at Amazon are women. Three out of 10 board members are women, but only one of the eight people listed as corporate officers.
It’s something Amazon has been working on changing, said Renz, who Tuesday spoke at an event geared to women entrepreneurs selling merchandise on Amazon’s third-party marketplace.
“We’re not saying we’ve cracked the code,” Renz said in the interview. But she said Amazon has an entire team focused on improving diversity within the company, including leadership development “as a mean of shaping future talent pools.”