Jeff Bezos, (Jeffrey Preston Bezos) CEO of Amazon, has a new technical adviser, a role also called Bezos’ shadow. It is a well known fact that the top of the hierarchy of Amazon is dominated by men. While Amazon has apparently done nothing to improve this, the new Bezos’ shadow is, as the title has shown, a woman. Her name is Wei Gao and she is, to reiterate, of Chinese descent. Already, she has, ostensibly, updated her LinkedIn profile to “VP, Technical Advisor to CEO – Amazon”.
As Bezos’ shadow, you get to accompany Bezos to all his meetings. This is evident in the word shadow; your shadow follows you wherever you go, right? The fact that you must be at every professional place the CEO is makes the job really ambitious, and consequently exposing. The technical adviser gets exposed to the business. This could explain why after occupying the position, which lasts about two years, occupants fly high.
Maria Renz, who was the technical adviser until 2017, is now the vice president of delivery experience. Andy Jassy, who was also a technical adviser, is now the CEO of Amazon Web Services. Greg Hart was also a technical adviser. Now he’s the vice president of Prime Video. Finally on this list is Dilip Kumar. He was also a technical adviser, but now is the vice president of Amazon Go.
The Idea of the Shadow
The idea of Bezos’ shadow was borrowed by Jeff Bezos according to a 2013 Bloomberg report. He borrowed this idea from Andy Grove, a one-time Intel CEO. The rationale of the position is to cause the occupants to gain experience and exposure in the business.
The idea of shadow is now a well established norm in Amazon. Not only Bezos uses the idea of shadow adviser in Amazon. Another CEO, in Amazon, Jeff Wilke, CEO of consumer retail, also uses it. In May, the chap made Yunyan Wang, a female, also of Chinese descent, his shadow, according CNBC. Wang was most recently director of marketplace, and held jobs at other tech companies like Expedia and Microsoft.
Bezos introduced the role into Amazon in the late 90’s. The first person to occupy the position’s one who was struggling to fit into the company. Stig Leschly, whose company, Exchange.com, was bought by Amazon in 1999, also served as one of Bezos’ first shadows.
His words in this connection run thus:
“He [Bezos] would walk around and go into meetings, and I would get to follow. I had nothing to do. I would just sit there and observe. But then he’d have an idea, and he would give it to me to figure out. I was a receptacle for him for any of the 19 ongoing activities in his brain that didn’t have a place in the normal organization.”